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Kentucky softball players, coaches quit midseason amid bullying allegations

Ben Rohrbach
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The Somerset (Ky.) Pulaski County High softball team staged a mass walkout in protest of a new head coach. (YouTube)
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The Somerset (Ky.) Pulaski County High softball team staged a mass walkout in protest of a new head coach. (YouTube)

Eleven games into the season, two-thirds of the Somerset (Ky.) Pulaski County High softball team quit along with three assistant coaches over what they described as bullying by their head coach, according to the Commonwealth Journal. Yet, administrators appear unfazed by the entire controversy.

A week before the season, Pulaski officials reportedly asked Kevin McKee to step down as head softball coach and replaced him with Brad Gover. McKee led the Lady Maroons to a .500 record last season, and Gover had them off to a 7-4 start this spring before the mass exodus.

Speaking on behalf of the 10 players who left the program, assistant coaches Missy Murphy, Jack Roney and Peggy Sewell released a prepared statement to the Commonwealth Journal. Here is a portion:

“On the field, the players made every attempt to change the things they were asked to change. Within a five-week period of time, we witnessed things and heard things being done to the players that included bullying, berating, intimidation, humiliation, and retaliation.”

“It finally reached a point in which we had to decide what was right and what was wrong and let our decision be based on that.”

“Unfortunately, after taking all they could, the players decided it was necessary to walk away from something they loved. When 10 players and 3 assistant coaches make this kind of decision, there is a bigger problem than is willing to be admitted. All of this was shared with administration, but they chose to stay with their decision that was made in February without giving any consideration to the long history of this successful program and the players that have sacrificed so much for it.”

Indeed, Pulaski principal Mike Murphy showed no inclination of wavering on his choice of Gover as head softball coach, telling the paper, "I realize some parents or others may not be in agreement with the change but the decision was made in the best interest of the students at Pulaski County High School."

Meanwhile, Gover has reportedly pieced together a roster with his five remaining players and other athletes with no organized softball experience, including a handful of girls' basketball players. Eulah Perkins, who won an indoor state shot put title this winter, had two hits in her first ever game, according to the Commonwealth Journal, but the Lady Maroons have lost five straight since the walkout.

(h/t USA TODAY)

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