An Iowa team advanced to the Little League Softball World Series semifinals Tuesday by beating a South Snohomish team forced into a tiebreaker after it was accused of deliberately losing a game.
PORTLAND — An Iowa team advanced to the Little League Softball World Series semifinals Tuesday by beating a South Snohomish team forced into a tiebreaker after it was accused of deliberately losing a game.
The Central Iowa team beat South Snohomish, 3-2, in a rematch ordered by Little League officials after receiving reports that some teams “did not play with the effort and spirit appropriate” for Little League play.
“I wouldn’t say vindicated. I would say that the two teams should have been playing for this spot played, and the better team won,” Chris Chadd, the president of Central Iowa Little League, told The Associated Press. “It’s just an ecstatic feeling.”
The dispute arose after South Snohomish was no-hit Monday by a team from Salisbury, N.C. The loss created a three-way tie for the Pool B title, meaning Washington and North Carolina would advance to the semifinals and the Polk City, Iowa, team would not.
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Had South Snohomish scored at least three runs but lost Monday, Central Iowa and Salisbury would have advanced based on a runs tiebreaker. Had South Snohomish won outright, Central Iowa and South Snohomish would have advanced based on better record in pool play.
Chadd, who was back in Iowa on Monday, said he heard from Iowa coach Charlie Husak that some of Washington’s top hitters were bunting rather than swinging away, and that the West squad wasn’t using its top pitcher to start the game.
Believing Washington was deliberately trying to avoid a rematch with Iowa in the semifinals, Husak filed a protest with the tournament director.
The protest was upheld, forcing South Snohomish to face the Iowans in Tuesday’s tiebreaker.
Snohomish Little League president Jeff Taylor, who first defended coach Fred Miller, expressed regret Tuesday in a statement.
“Our coach was faced with a decision that, in the bubble of intense competition, appeared to him to be in the best interest of our team,” he said. “In hindsight, it is very likely he would have made a different choice. Though the decision that Coach Miller made did not violate the letter of the rules, I can see abundant evidence that it was not in line with the spirit of the game.
“We hope that everyone remembers that the decisions that have placed our team under scrutiny were decisions made by the coach. Our young ladies had no role in that. In fact, they have fought their hearts out to be in the World Series and nothing should take away from that accomplishment.”
Miller did not immediately return a call by The Seattle Times on Tuesday.
“I actually tried to get ahold of Fred last night, but he’s been so tied up with what he was doing that he’s been kind of unobtainable,” John Goodwin, the president of Snohomish Shock fastpitch softball, told The Seattle Times on Tuesday. “Everything’s pure speculation for us, but I haven’t had any conversations with him.”
Goodwin was not in Portland for the tournament. Several of the players on the South Snohomish team play for the Snohomish Shock, Goodwin said. Miller is listed as one of the Shock’s coaches on the program’s website.
In Tuesday’s tiebreaker, pitcher Mikayla Houge had 11 strikeouts for Iowa, which held onto the lead from the third inning on to earn a spot in a semifinal set for later Tuesday.
“You look at the poor girls from Washington. They’re suffering now because of a decision made by their coach,” Chadd told The Associated Press. “I just feel for those girls. It makes me sad to know that those girls’ hearts are breaking because of this.”