Woodinville's 64-0 Victory | Softball coach questions himself
Woodinville High School's 64-0 fastpitch softball win over Franklin last week prompted the KingCo 4A coaches to meet Tuesday night to discuss...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Woodinville High School's 64-0 fastpitch softball win over Franklin last week prompted the KingCo 4A coaches to meet Tuesday night to discuss ways to avoid any kind of repeat performance and led to some soul-searching by Woodinville coach Jim Weir.
"Baseball and softball have been part of my life since I was 7 years old," Weir said. "The last thing I want to do is disrespect any opponent, disrespect the game. What happened is unfortunate. I have been questioning myself these last four-five days."
"I have so much respect for this game," he added. "What hurts me the most is maybe I hurt that [respect]. That was not my intention."
Weir said he was "shocked" by the final score after the March 21 game ended. He said he was concentrating more on making sure his players were playing the game right and had lost count of the score.
"If anything positive can come out of this, it's that we can implement some new rules so this never happens again," Weir said.
The meeting, held at Juanita High School, was closed to the public but Tim Crowder, Juanita athletic director in charge of KingCo 4A fastpitch, said one proposal was to change the "mercy rule" — when a game is ended early because of a lopsided score.
A 15-run lead after three full innings would be the new standard, replacing a 10-run lead after five innings. Fastpitch games normally last seven innings, and state rules require a game to go at least five innings for it to be official.
Several other recommendations will be part of the overall plan presented to conference principals and athletic directors, who will make a final decision in the next few weeks. Crowder declined to comment on the other recommendations.
"Everyone's on the same page in terms of trying to do what's best for the kids and still compete," Crowder said.
Eight of 11 coaches attended the meeting and agreed unanimously on the recommendations, he added.
Another suggestion at the meeting involved moving Franklin to a full-time junior-varsity schedule for the rest of the season. The Quakers' struggling program has been beaten 30-0, 24-0 and 13-0 in its three other games.
But Crowder said Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules prohibit such a move.
Franklin principal Jennifer Wiley said her school's softball team will have to learn how to define success for itself, apart from the scoreboard.
"Our program is about taking kids where they are and growing them from game to game," Wiley said. "We're not measuring success by wins and losses. ... Sometimes that puts us at the top of the heap, and sometimes it does not. There's so much more to athletics than winning, and we need to make sure we're cultivating all those things."
Wiley said there was no indication from her coaches or players at the game that Woodinville was running up the score. Weir said his team stopped being aggressive — hit-and-runs, taking extra bases, tagging up — after going up 7-0.
Weir isn't sure where the line should be drawn.
"At what point is it just too much? Twenty, thirty, forty runs?" he asked in a letter on the team's Web site. "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."
Wiley said it would be hypocritical of Franklin to ask Woodinville to back off in fastpitch when her Seattle school finished another successful boys basketball season, during which the Quakers often blew out opposing teams and was ranked No. 1 in the state most of the season.
Wiley said it's the nature of competition to have skilled teams matching up against not-so-skilled teams.
Many of the Eastside communities, including Woodinville, have strong youth leagues for fastpitch, with kids starting as early as 6 or 7 years old. That has translated to great success at the high-school level. In the last three years, Eastside KingCo 4A schools have combined to win two state championships and also finished second and third.
Franklin has no such feeder programs, and has struggled against its Eastside counterparts since joining KingCo.
"You're asking kids without much experience to jump into this league and compete," Crowder said. "That's not going to happen. We need to do something [to keep] from destroying those kids' self-image. We want them to want to play tomorrow and not feel so defeated, where they feel there's no sense in coming out again."
But Wiley said that's not taking into account her students' resiliency.
"They do keep coming back," Wiley said. "They are gaining and growing from it. You have to be real honest with them, 'This is what we're up against.' And you celebrate the heck out of their growth."
Michael Ko: 206-515-5653 or firstname.lastname@example.org