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Barstow gets second chance
BARSTOW • The Barstow softball team has a second life in the playoffs thanks to a CIF-Southern Section ruling on Friday that reversed the outcome of the Aztecs 4-0 loss at Calvary Murrieta.
CIF-SS ruled that Calvary Murrieta violated a batting practice rule before facing Barstow on Thursday. Barstow was awarded a 7-0 forfeit win and will travel to face Western in the second round of the CIF-SS Division V playoffs at 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday.
The rule states “Teams entered in the softball playoffs WILL NOT be permitted to take batting practice on the day of the scheduled contest. Batting practice will be construed as any type of pitching motion with ANY type of ball from in front of the batter (including pitching machines, underhand tossing, overhand throwing or pepper). THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE BATTING WARMUP WILL BE SIDE SOFT TOSS. The player who tosses the ball should be on a knee and to the side of the batter. The ball should be lifted, not pitched, to the batter. THE PENALTY FOR BATTING PRACTICE WITH WIFFLE BALL, SOFTBALL, BASEBALL, ETC. MAY BE FORFEITURE OF GAME.”
The rule, which appears in bold and red font on the first page of the CIF-SS Playoff Bulletin that is sent out to teams before the postseason, was put in place because home playoff teams would have an unfair advantage if they were allowed to take batting practice prior to the game with the other team traveling a long distance, said Scott Raftery, CIF-SS assistant commissioner who overseas softball.
Although Raftery said it was a tough decision and CIF-SS prefers to have games decided on the field, there was no leeway after Barstow made its claim and proved it.
“It’s cut and dry,” said Raftery. “Although the rules says ‘might forfeit,’ there’s no other option. There is no other compromise.”
The rule has been around for at least 20 years and has been tweaked and debated various times. It costs a baseball or softball team a playoff game every four years Raftery estimated.
Calvary Murrieta coach Tiffany Bleil, a first-year head coach who has been with the program for nine seasons, said she was unaware of any restrictions on batting practice. The Warriors had the same warmup routine throughout the regular season, when batting practice is allowed.