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Tuesday, March 27, 2007 - Page updated at 02:00 AM

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Sideline Smitty

No excuse for 64-0 rout in fastpitch softball

Seattle Times staff reporter

Q: Which is worse, the Chief Sealth girls basketball team under Ray Willis beating West Seattle 87-3 in December 2005, or Woodinville beating Franklin 64-0 in fastpitch softball last Wednesday?

A: Tough question because both stink.

I'm going with the Chief Sealth romp because it's easier to limit scoring in basketball than baseball or fastpitch.

In a basketball mismatch, a responsible coach can require seven passes before each shot and mandate that all shots to be taken from three-point range by substitutes. On defense, the dominating team can just play a tight zone 13 to 15 feet from the basket and give the opponents free shots over it.

In baseball or fastpitch, the only guaranteed out is to tell a kid to strike out, which wouldn't bother me. I know a veteran prep baseball coach who told three boys to strike out in a game this month and growled at them, "Look good doing it!"

In other words, don't make it obvious. He didn't count these at-bats in the players' stats, so no one's precious batting average was affected.

Other tactics are to hit only fly balls or hit only at the best fielders. Bunting is an option but it is no guarantee of outs against a poor defensive team.

Woodinville coach Jim Weir says in a letter now posted on the team's Web site that "everything was done, short of making a mockery of the game, to end it." He said umpires were told "our runners will be aggressive with their leads [off bases] and to call it like they saw it." Translation: Feel free to call us out for leaving base early.

Weir, who must not be good at math, says in the letter he was "unaware how bad it actually was until it was finally over."

And what were the umpires doing while this carnage continued? Pretending it was Game 7 of the World Series? Good officials can stop a lot of bleeding in any athletic rout.

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One thing everyone seems to agree on is that a change in the 10-run "mercy rule" is needed to stop a game like this from going five innings. Fortunately, Woodinville was the home team or the Falcons would have batted a fifth time and the score might have been 80-0.

The embarrassment of the game seems to have taken awhile to sink in at Woodinville, which didn't report the game to newspapers but allowed a "Hooray for us!" account of the 60-hit bombardment to be posted on the team's Web site.

When criticism began to mount over the weekend, that account was replaced by a somber letter by Weir that begins, "No one has been more disturbed about the final score of our Franklin game than I."

He recites things his team did to reduce scoring and admits the posting of the game account, which is done after every game, was a mistake.

Near its end, Weir's letter states, "If this game does anything positive, it will point out the inequities in our league, rules that need to be changed and the role umpires can take in such an unbalanced game."

Weir concludes his letter by saying, "This was not a victory we celebrated."

With good reason. Falcons fastpitch is going to be 100 times better known for this romp than its 2005 state championship and last year's third-place finish.

After all, 64-0 is a much easier score to remember than 87-3.

Q: Several weeks ago, you listed former Wilson High School runner Darrell Robinson as one of five former Washington high-school athletes with whom you would most like to have coffee. That way, you figured, you would know if this troubled guy was dead or alive. Ever hear from him?

A: No. I heard from people with indelible memories of watching him run and make up ground on opponents in relays, where his speed was most apparent and stunning. In the summer of 1982 after graduating from the Tacoma school, Wilson ran 400 meters in 44.69 seconds. It still stands as a national high-school record because performances the summer after an athlete graduates are considered.

Robinson appeared headed for big-time international fame but never achieved it. He battled internal demons and his life after high school included stops at three colleges and known suicide attempts, including one in 1996 by drinking antifreeze.

Have a question about high-school sports? Craig Smith will find the answer every Tuesday in The Times. Ask your question in one of the following ways: Voice mail (206-464-8279), snail mail (Craig Smith, Seattle Times Sports, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111) or e-mail csmith@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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