WALESKA, Ga. -- A local college softball team was given a loss in their playoff game - one that ended their season despite being tied in the game. Now "#JusticeforReinhardt" is all over social media.
There won't be any more games played at Ken White Softball Field this year - no more games at all for the 10 seniors on the team.
"Some of us played together before we even came to Reinhardt," pitcher Madison Luck said.
That bond is proof of the sisterhood still on display in the dugout.
"It's heartbreaking that it had to end this way," pitcher Carleigh Myatt.
"This way" was in Sioux City, Iowa in a double-elimination playoff to make it to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) World Series. They were tied in the third inning against Ottowa. Then a big storm blew through.
"At about 4:30, all of us went out there with cups, buckets, rakes to get the field ready,” pitcher Maci Mills said. “The NAIA director told us to get off the field."
They did so. And after meeting with the coaches, the NAIA awarded the win - and the world series berth - to Ottowa. The reason behind the decision: They had won the first game against Reinhardt. This was during a double elimination tournament.
“We could've played on this field if there were lights,” Myatt said. “It was sunny for two hours. We could've gotten this game in. But they just didn't want to.
The field chosen by the NAIA didn't have lights. It didn't have a tarp to protect the field. Neither are a requirement in the bylaws but are "strongly encouraged."
“We've spent so many years of our lives preparing for this and to find out that we don't get to control how we end our career - it's decided by the NAIA - there's nothing we can say about it. We're all disappointed," Luck said.
“I think policy and procedures are known and written, so sometimes it can be difficult when you know something can happen to you and it happens,” athletic director Bill Popp said. “The frustration is still going to be there because you do feel like you didn’t get a chance to play it out on the field.”
And so go 43 wins and their eighth straight conference championship. But this year they were locked out of a shot at a World Series championship.
NAIA released the following statement on their decision:
During the NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round tournament on May 17, an elimination game between Reinhardt and Ottawa had to be called in the third inning (score 2-2) of Game 6 of the tournament due to inclement weather.
Reports included rain, hail, lightning, and the area was under a tornado watch. Because Ottawa had previously beaten Reinhardt 8-2 in the opening round tournament, the inclement weather policy stated that Ottawa advanced to the World Series in Clermont, Fla., from May 26 - June 1 as the Ottawa was the remaining undefeated team in the Opening Round tournament.
In the event Reinhardt wins Game 6 that was called in the third inning and Game 7 (If Necessary Game) could not be played or completed, then Reinhardt would have advanced to the World Series.
The decision was made after following the inclement weather policy developed by the National Administrative Council - that includes Athletic Directors, Conference Commissioners and a variety of other school administrators – with input from coaches and membership groups.
Tarps and lights are not a requirement for Opening Round hosts, rather it is strongly encouraged.
With all of that said, here are some over-riding factors that the NAIA, in collaboration with its membership, takes into consideration during inclement weather at NAIA postseason.
- The health and safety of our student-athletes is always the NAIA’s top priority.
- It is always our goal to complete games on the field and we understand the frustration when a team feels denied that opportunity.
- The NAIA strives to make the best decisions based on the information available at that time.