CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. - Softball players at Reinhardt University are heartbroken after a storm and a conference rule caused them to be declared the losers of a tied game.
The team played in the first round of the national playoffs Wednesday in Iowa against Ottawa University.
There was a rain delay as storms rolled in.
The field didn’t have a tarp or lights, even though the NAIA manual says fields “must have lights” and strongly recommends they have tarps.
“There should always be a tarp. There should always be lights just in case anything happens,” Reinhardt player Madison Luck said.
The team tried to save the washed-out fields themselves, scooping up the water with cups.
“We were more than willing to go out and help clear the field,” Luck said.
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Despite their efforts, an NAIA official declared the field unplayable.
The game was tied in the third inning, but according to a conference rule, Reinhardt was declared the loser because the other team had beaten them earlier in the tournament.
They were eliminated from the playoffs, and their season is over.
“I think it’s heartbreaking more than anything,” Luck said. “I’ve never seen that many girls cry in one spot before.”
With no time on the schedule for a make up game, an NAIA spokeswoman told Channel 2’s Justin Wilfon that the situation could have been avoided.
“Once they realized the weather could be bad on Wednesday, they gave coaches the opportunity to move games to Tuesday, and the Reinhardt coach opted to keep the game on Wednesday,” said Jennifer Saab, the NAIA director of communications.
Wilfon asked if in future years the NAIA would consider making tarps mandatory at all of their playoff fields, but Saab said she did not have an answer to that yet.
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