PORTLAND, Oregon – The Central Iowa All-Stars won their one-game playoff against the U.S. West team at the Little League Softball World Series Tuesday after an incident at the tournament sparked national controversy Monday.
Central Iowa beat the West team composed of South Snohomish Little League players from Washington state by a score of 3-2 in a close game throughout. Iowa pitcher Mikayla Hogue posted 11 strikeouts in the win. Central Iowa will now play in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday against the U.S. East representative from Rhode Island.
Initially, it appeared the team of Central Iowa girls would be eliminated from the Little League Softball World Series on Monday due to losing a complicated tiebreaker.
However, Little League officials determined there would be a one-game playoff between Central Iowa and the West after concluding the West team purposely lost their game to the U.S. Southeast team on Monday.
The West, who already earned a spot in the semifinals at the time and only beat Central Iowa by one run in their first meeting, lost 8-0 intentionally to Southeast in an effort to keep Central Iowa out of the semifinals. If the West won or scored at least three runs in Monday's game, Central Iowa would have advanced.
“It was very evident when they did the starting lineups, their four best players were on the bench,” Central Iowa coach Charlie Husak said in a phone interview. “Their top four hitters were their subs the previous night when we played them. It was very evident right away what was going on.”
Chris Chadd, president of Central Iowa Little League, told Channel 13's John Sears that Tuesday morning’s game was in fact being played under protest after it was filed officially with the LLWS. The Central Iowa team didn’t want the West girls to be penalized, but they wanted the coaches to be removed from the team.
South Snohomish Little League in Washington state also issued a statement Tuesday afternoon about the game in question. The statement reads in part:
“Our coach was faced with a decision that, in the bubble of intense competition, appeared to him to be in the best interest of our team. In hindsight, it is very likely he would have made a different choice. Though the decision that Coach Miller made did not violate the letter of the rules, I can see abundant evidence that it was not in line with the spirit of the game.
“Once we have an opportunity to examine what transpired, we will be able to learn from these events in Portland. We will make sure that we are doing all that we can to provide our players with the opportunity to compete in a way that honors their commitment to fair play and open competition.
“Finally, we hope that everyone remembers that the decisions that have placed our team under scrutiny were decisions made by the coach. Our young ladies had no role in that. In fact, they have fought their hearts out to be in the World Series and nothing should take away from that accomplishment."
Central Iowa's semifinals game can be seen on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. Tuesday.