Atlee, Virginia, which beat Kirkland on Friday, was disqualified after a social media post showed six of its players giving the middle finger with a caption indicating it was toward the Kirkland team. Kirkland lost the title game Saturday to Poland, Ohio, 7-1.
KIRKLAND – The Kirkland American/National All-Stars thought they were getting ready to play a game Saturday morning at the Junior Softball Little League World Series.
Instead, thanks to a mistimed post on social media, the team of 12-to-14-year-olds got to play for a World Series title on ESPN2.
Though Kirkland lost 7-1 to Central champion Poland, Ohio, it was certainly a wild day.
“It was a very hectic day,” acting Kirkland manager John Allen said. “It was a long week with all the games that we had to play. We were not expecting to get here this way, but we’re happy to be part of the championship game.”
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Kirkland, the host team and the Washington District 9 champions, got to Everest Park to prepare for their third-fourth place game against Warwick North, R.I.
But around 8:45 a.m. they were told to gather in the dugout. Amy, wife of manager Mikal Norman, put her husband on speaker. He told them they would be in the championship game after Southeast (Atlee Little League/Mechanicsville, Virginia) was disqualified from playing in the title game, to screams of joy.
It was reported to the committee that Atlee, which beat Kirkland 1-0 in a semifinal game on Friday, had made an inappropriate post on social media. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that a photo was posted on Snapchat after the game of six players flipping off the camera, with the caption indicating it was meant for Kirkland American/National. Atlee manager Scott Currie was notified and the picture was deleted. The team showed up at Kirkland’s hotel to make an apology in person.
Tournament director John Chadwick provided a statement made by the Little League main office in Williamsport, Pa., that they had disqualified Atlee “for violation of Little League’s policies regarding unsportsmanlike conduct, inappropriate use of social media and the high standards that Little League International holds for all its participants.”
Chadwick and other tournament officials declined further comment.
Allen said it was tough to go from playing in a consolation game to playing for a title on ESPN2.
“The girls were super excited to get that shot, and go from playing at 9 a.m. to playing for a championship,” he said. “We just had to reset and come up with a different game plan to beat this good Central team. Central obviously had all night to prepare mentally and we had less than an hour. That was our concern.”
Allen was the acting manager for the day after Norman and MacKenzie Burke were ejected from their semifinal game against Atlee after the umpires said they were stealing signs.
“Our kids don’t steal signs,” he said. “We do not teach our kids to do that. It was pretty easy to tell what (their pitcher) was gonna throw. The umpire must have seen something (though) and that’s how it works.”
Kirkland’s Ruby Olmstead, who came on in relief of starter Antonia Norman and threw the last six innings, said it was a whirlwind day.
“We were all really excited about it but we were also confused and we were crying,” she said. “We had a lot of mixed emotions about it.”