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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Analysis: Softball’s Candrea questions pitching rules


OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The officiating crews have made a loud statement at the Women’s College World Series this season, but not all softball fans like what they have to say.

“”I’ve never seen an umpire’s judgment take over the complexity of a game and tonight he did,”” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said after Arizona’s 9-0 loss to the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. “”It’s called one time, it’s not called the next time, it was sporadic. So what do you do? You’re at the mercy.””

There has been a frenzy of illegal pitches called in the first four games at the WCWS in Oklahoma City, Okla. After one day of competition, 14 have been called.

Arizona’s Kenzie Fowler was called for eight illegal pitches in just three innings of work.

The Florida Gators were called for six illegal pitches in its opening game at the WCWS, with four being charged to Stephanie Brombacher and two being charged to relief pitcher Ensley Gammel.

Fowler, Brombacher and Gammel were all called on illegal pitches for having both feet off the ground at the same time. The NCAA rules committee changed the rule to include having both feet off the ground at the same time as an illegal pitch this year.

Brombacher has notably struggled this season, having been flagged 23 times including Thursday’s game.

But Fowler, who has been called on just six recorded balks this season, was left wondering what she could do to make the in-game adjustment to something. She said it was a problem that she has “”never been called on in my life.””

“”You play all year to get to here and what they were calling tonight has never been called,”” Candrea added. “”So how does a kid fix it if she doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong?””

The NCAA rules committee changed the rule to include having both feet off the ground at the same time as an illegal pitch this year. If a pitch is deemed illegal, it becomes a called ball and runners on base advance 60 feet if applicable.

The illegal pitches not only slow down a pitcher’s rhythm at the World Series, but also have proved to be lethal to a pitcher’s effectiveness.

In the Gators’ 16-3 loss to UCLA, two balks in the first inning allowed UCLA to score three runs when Bruin Andrea Harrison capitalized with a three-run homer.

Florida head coach Tim Walton stated that the decision of how to enforce the rule lay solely on the rules committee.

“”I think everybody can argue about the illegal pitches and argue about the rules, all of that stuff,”” Walton said after Game 2 of the tournament. “”Whether the pitches were defective or not, who cares at this point in time? That’s the rules committee’s job, it’s not our job to go out there and worry about it.””

But it comes down to a judgment call of the officiating crew, something that not all coaches agree with.

After Arizona’s opening round game, Candrea lashed out at the officiating crew.

“”I blame that we as coaches have given the officials way too much power in our own game and not even know what the hell they’re doing,”” Candrea said. “”I believe that this rule if it came from the coaches association, which most things do in our sport, it might be a little easier to understand.

“”I would think in most sports, if you’re going to make changes in the interpretation of a rule, then do it in August or September and give people warning as to what you’re going to call and how you’re going to call it.””

The job of the officiating crew is to make sure that the pitcher doesn’t have an advantage over the batter, but for Arizona and Florida, the umpires point has been a catalyst to putting them in the losers bracket.

“”I don’t feel sorry for us,”” Candrea said. “”Although I think at this arena (Fowler) deserved a lot more than what she got tonight.””



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