It was not the way the East Lawrence Lady Eagles wanted to see their season end.
It was not the way any team would want to end their season.
Thursday night the Lady Eagles season came to an end at the regional tournament in a 5-2 loss to Lauderdale County.
The catch was the game ended in five innings, not seven.
Weather played a big part in the softball regional tournament this past weekend, and on Thursday it delayed the games nearly five hours. When East Lawrence and Lauderdale County started it was 10:45 p.m.
AHSAA rules state that a inning can not be started after midnight.
NFHS rule 4.2.3 states the following:
If weather or darkness interferes with play so that the game is called (ended) by the umpire, it is a regulation game:
a. if five full innings have been played, or if the home team has scored an equal or greater number of runs in four or four and a fraction turns at bat than the visiting team has scored in five turns at bat; or
b. if play has gone beyond five full innings.
So the game was called in the fifth inning, giving Lauderdale County the win and ending the Eagles season.
“It’s a dumb rule,” said East Lawrence head coach Don Smith. “Whoever made it has to be someone that doesn’t understand softball/baseball.”
The controversy didn’t end there.
“What was bad was Colbert Heights started at the same time as us and they were given the option to play and risk the game being called or postpone the game,” Smith said. “We weren’t given that option. I think it’s unfair that teams on the other field had the option but we didn’t.”
East Lawrence lost 12-1 to Pisgah in the first game but rebounded to defeat Holly Pond 9-0. Briley Pitt and Tori Crow combined for five hits and three RBIs in that game while Pitt also pitched an 11 strikeout shutout.
In the third game, Lauderdale County had just went back up 5-2 after the Eagles cut the lead to 3-2. The Eagles’ bats had began to come alive with Camryn Langley and Kaitlin Dutton both knocking in RBI hits.
“Who knows what could have happened. Lauderdale County was the better team, but sometimes the better team doesn’t always win,” Smith said. “Even the other coach didn’t like it and he came out on the winning side of it. I just feel like my kids should have gotten a chance to finish that game.”
The good news is that the Eagles had no seniors, so no careers were ended Thursday. Still, the loss is sure to leave a sour taste in their mouths until next season.