California softball team eliminated from playoffs for bizarre soft toss batting practice violation

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

A California high school softball team had its postseason dreams ended prematurely for a reason that was at once both incredibly unique and utterly banal: They dared to take batting practice on the day of a playoff game.

The Shadow Hills softball team, which was eliminated from the state playoffs for taking batting practice — Facebook
The Shadow Hills softball team, which was eliminated from the state playoffs for taking batting practice — Facebook

As reported by the Desert Sun, Indio (Calif.) Shadow Hills High had its softball team eliminated from the California Interscholastic Federation Division VI playoffs after it was revealed that the team had participated in batting practice before a matchup against San Pedro (Calif.) Mary Star of the Sea. The Shadow Hills girls had reportedly decided to kill time before their game by having multiple players line up and take five swings against soft toss pitching. That, evidently, was deemed to be legitimate batting practice, which eliminated the team due to a violation of CIF Southern Section Bylaw 2521.2.

The violation nullified a hard-fought, 1-0, 9-inning victory for Shadow Hills against Mary Star of the Sea.

“There were four different fields there and we were right across from the main one,” sophomore pitcher Caitlyn Whiteside told the Desert Sun. “We were hitting soft toss, having three girls at a time go up and swing five times. Some were out in the field catching. We were just killing time.”

If you’re wondering, the full text of Bylaw 2521.2 can be found on the Desert Sun article about the incident right here. The most salient part of the ruling is the following paragraph:

Teams entered in the softball playoffs WILL NOT be permitted to take batting practice on the day of the scheduled contest. Batting practice will be construed as any type of pitching motion with any type of ball from in front of the batter (including pitching machines, underhand tossing, overhand throwing or pepper). The only acceptable batting warmup will be soft side toss.

Shadow Hills athletic director Ron Shipley told the Desert Sun that parents from Mary Star of the Sea filed a complaint with the CIF about the “batting practice” session, and the CIF ruled that Shadow Hills had indeed committed a violation. That violation in turn made the Knights ineligible to continue on to the CIF quarterfinals, a round which would have marked the team’s deepest run into the state playoffs in school history.

While there was no questioning that the CIF regulation was well established in the state’s rule book, Shipley sounded a note of disappointment that no one had warned the Knights that they might have been violating the regulation. Instead, the parents allegedly quietly captured video and submitted that to CIF officials after their school lost, with CIF ruling in Mary Star of the Sea’s favor after some Shadow Hills players were getting ready for the school’s graduation the following night.

Needless to say, the players were both shocked and hurt when they learned their season was over due to a technicality.

“We found out about 5 p.m.,” said senior Dalilah Castillo-Herrera who had plans for a seniors-only celebration at Magic Mountain. “We thought we were playing. We were all so shocked. There’s no words to describe how sad and upset we all are.

“We went to practice, then some girls left to go to an awards ceremony. We were waiting for rides and some girls started getting some things on Twitter. No one knew. It’s sad. We didn’t want to go out this way.”

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