Tigers can't catch a break|Controversial calls prove too costly

Published 9:22 pm Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sports Writer

RALEIGH — Thanks to two controversial calls by the Boys in Blue involving game-deciding runs, the ladies of Yellow and Green left Walnut Creek feeling a little blue themselves. They lost to Midway and Swain County, both by the score of 3-2, in the NCHSAA 1-A double-elimination tournament Friday to end the season with a fourth-place finish in the state.
The first call came in the bottom of the eighth inning, after Williamston (18-9), the designated visitor for both games, rallied to take a 2-1 lead over Midway (21-6) in the top of the eighth.
After the Panthers’ Elizabeth McCullen slapped a game-tying RBI single with one out, Tigers ace Harris Shepherd got the next batter to fly to short for the second out of the inning.
With runners in scoring position Midway’s Karson Barnes drilled a line drive to shortstop Heather Jackson, who bobbled the ball before promptly firing it to first baseman Kellen Edwards.
Jackson’s throw took Edwards off the bag, but she appeared to tag Barnes on the way to first for the would-be third out.
The only problem was that the first-base umpire was watching Edwards’ feet, while the home plate umpire was watching home to make sure the runner touched home.
Nobody was watching to see if Edwards made the tag.
“The umpires told me that they did not see Kellen’s foot on the bag,” Williamston head coach Damon Hayes said. “I understood that. I questioned the tag because when you are off the base you always tag. He said he never looked for a tag.”
Hayes argued for his players as the umpires convened for roughly five minutes, but it was to no avail.
Dasia Moore scored the Tigers’ first run in the first inning against Midway on a Jackson RBI single. Williamston’s second run in the eighth crossed home plate on a Cassie Harrell fielder’s choice.
The Tigers then had to face perennial powerhouse Swain County (23-5) in the second round.
Harrell was the focus of the second controversial call of the day as she attempted to tag up from third on an Edwards’ sac fly to right field.
The home plate umpire initially called Harrell safe at home and it appeared the Tigers cut the Maroon Devils’ lead to 2-1. However, after a brief umpire meeting, the call was overturned.
“(The home plate umpire) first went from saying he didn’t see a tag, but then went to a field umpire and he said there was a tag there,” Hayes said. “I didn’t see a tag and Cass said there was no tag, but the field umpire over-ruled the crew chief.”
Despite the morale-draining calls the Tigers fought hard to the final out in both games.
Williamston tied up the Devils in the fifth when some heads up base running by Karly Stevens and Moore allowed the two to score on a Madison Brandon bunt that was misplayed.
Both runners crossed the plate as pitcher Shelby Parker overthrew the ball to first base, tying the score at 2-2.
The loss to Swain County was the final sports event in Williamston history as the school will merge with Jamesville next year to form the Riverside Knights.
Hayes said that his team went out the way any proud team would.
“I just cannot speak enough about these girls,” Hayes said. “No matter if we were ahead or behind we just kept fighting.
“Even though we lost twice you have to walk out of here with your head up. They did a great job representing the community and made us all proud.”