SL softball wins district title after controversial finish

Spring Lake pitcher Sam Weerstra's range of emotions went from tears of sorrow to tears of jubilation within a few seconds, all because of a controversial ending to the Lakers' Division 2 district softball championship game against Orchard View on Saturday. With Spring Lake clinging to a 5-4 lead with two outs in the top of the seventh inning at Wanrooy Field, Orchard View junior standout Megan Vanderal stepped up to the plate and smashed a two-run home run deep over the left field fence off of Weerstra, giving the Cardinals an apparent 6-5 lead.
Nate Thompson
Jun 5, 2011

The runs never counted, however, thanks to the keen eye of Spring Lake coach Bill Core.

Core said he noticed Vanderwal blatantly miss touching first base on her trot towards home.

“Anytime there's a home run, I watch the base runner just for that reason, and (Vanderwall) clearly missed on the inside of the bag,” Core said. “Right away I looked at the base umpire and I pointed right at first base. (The home plate) umpire told me to wait to make an appeal until she touched home, and when she did, I went to the home plate umpire, said I'm appealing that she missed first base, and the base ump agreed and ruled she was out.”

There was brief confusion on whether Orchard View's tying run should have counted, but after the umpires consulted the rule book for several minutes, Spring Lake was awarded the 5-4 victory.

Because Vanderwal technically never reached first base, the umpires ruled that OV base runner Emily Peake also could not advance from third base.

Spring Lake (16-15 overall) advances to Saturday's Division 2 regional at Hope College where it will face Belding. Hudsonville Unity Christian and Wyoming Rogers will battle in the other regional semifinal.

Weerstra said the conclusion of the contest was surreal.

“When I saw (Vanderwal's home run) go over the fence, my first emotion was tears. I was hearbroken,” she said. “But I told myself to keep your head up. It's not over. We still got one batter to go. And then Mr. Core, who's awesome and knows the rules extremely well, made the appeal, and all of a sudden, it was back to crying again, but for a happy reason.”

The final ruling sparked initial outrage from Orchard View, including head coach Jeff Chaffee and athletic director Ken Overla, who criticized Core for making the appeal.

“It's unfortunate that the last play my two seniors are going to remember from their final game is that play,” Chaffee said. “I'm disappointed that Bill felt the need to win that way.”

Core said he could understand Orchard View's disappointment.

“I can't even imagine what (the Cardinals) are going through right now," Core said. "I feel terrible for them. I know they've been close to a district title a number of times and they really wanted this one.

“On the flip side, I feel it's my job as coach. And as quickly as (the base umpire) made the call, it must have been obvious. We made eye contact right away, and it was like 'were you watching the same thing I just saw?'”

Look for Monday's Tribune for a complete roundup of the Lakers' win and other district results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

TC17

The quotes by the OV coach are ridiculous. I can only assume then that if an SL girl had not tagged up on a sacrifice fly that she would have easily scored on he would not have appealed that. It is a shame they had to lose that way but it is not Coach Core's fault.

T-Bone

I saw this malarkey reading the story in the paper last night. I know people say things in the disappointment of the moment, but that was a pretty ignorant statement by OV's coach. I would say without a doubt that the OV coach would have done the same thing as Coach Core did if the situation was reversed. I would call him a liar to his face if he denied it. Excellent job by Coach Core being observant and knowing the rules to point this out to the umpire and get the victory. Good luck to the Laker girls at Regionals.

S.Cook

Haha! Great job Coach Core. Since when is doing any/all things to help your team succeed (while still abiding by the rules) reason for scrutiny? As stated by the person below me, I'll give the OV coach the benefit of the doubt and say he got caught up in the moment, but in the end the joke is on him. In competition there is always a winner and a loser, it's how you handle the losing that stands out.

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