Pictured: Nyomi Hungerford is safe at home under the tag of H-K catcher Madison LaTouche for what was believed to be a 1-0 Cromwell victory on Tuesday. Alas …
NOTE: This story has been amended to explain the Shoreline Conference’s oversight with the protest and resumption of the game. The story also has been corrected to say national federation rules are followed in softball, as well as to note Koritkoski’s role as CIAC rules interpreter.
By Paul Augeri
CROMWELL – The Shoreline Conference softball game between Cromwell and Haddam-Killingworth will revert back to the top of the eighth inning and resume Thursday (4pm) after H-K’s appeal of an umpire’s decision was upheld.
The game played out on the field Tuesday with Cromwell winning 1-0. Instead, H-K will have runners on first and second and none out in a scoreless game.
The matchup showcased two of the league’s incredibly talented (and young) pitchers in sophomore Lily Kenney of Cromwell (17 strikeouts, no walks, five hits allowed) and freshman Bella Richwine of H-K (two hits, no walks, eight K’s).
Here’s how the controversy came about:
H-K coach Jeff Talbott inserted flex player Kat McQueeney into the batting order in the ninth spot (from the 10th, non-hitting spot) in place of designated player Audrey Snyder without first alerting plate umpire Hank Koritkoski. Snyder was hit on the hand while swinging at a pitch in the fifth inning and later removed from the game.
When McQueeney reached on a bunt, Cromwell’s staff was confused, thinking Snyder should have been the hitter.
“I thought my scorekeeper did a great job of catching it,” Panthers coach Angelo Morello said.
By rule, Talbott should have been given a verbal warning – and he initially was by Koritkoski — for not reporting McQueeney.
Cromwell thought the rules indicated otherwise, that McQueeney should have been called out for batting out of the order by not checking into the game. Koritkoski consulted with his colleague and, after several minutes of discussion, changed his initial decision, ruling McQueeney out and Ellie Frith, who led off with a single, back to first.
H-K’s Kaleigh Bodak then bounced a Kenney fastball to second, where Erica Dewey turned a 4-4-3 double play to end the Cougars’ threat.
H-K athletic director Lynne Flint confirmed Wednesday that the protest fell under the auspices of the Shoreline Conference and that the league followed its own procedures in determining at what point the game would pick up. When it resumes Thursday, Frith will be at second base and McQueeney at first with nobody out and Bodak at the plate.
“It is what it is. It’s the rules,” Morello said. “We don’t want to win like that. With all that the girls have accomplished this year … they still have the opportunity to win.”
Talbott said Tuesday night that after the consulting the high school rulebook, Koritkoski – who is the softball rules interpreter for the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference — said he found “in four different places” that his initial ruling of a warning was correct.
Cromwell loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth on a H-K error and two bunt hits. Madison Tessmer then flied out in foul territory in medium left field and pinch-runner Nyomi Hungerford beat the throw home for the only run of the game – that no longer counts.
H-K (14-1) can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Shoreline tournament by beating Cromwell. North Branford, with two losses after dropping a 9-4 decision to Coginchaug on Tuesday, is still in the running for the top seed.
Cromwell (13-4) will likely be the No. 4 seed in the 10-team tournament, which begins Saturday.