Championship cancelation means LaGrange loses the chance to play for region title

Published 9:58 pm Thursday, October 12, 2023

The LaGrange High softball team worked the entire season for a chance at a region championship, but on Thursday, that opportunity was snatched out of their hands.

The Grangers were set to face Whitewater in a rematch of last year’s region championship on Thursday at 7 p.m., but after rain waterlogged the Wildcats field, an alternative solution could not be agreed upon to ensure the game was played. 

“We knew the fields up there were going to be rained out, but we felt like playing the game was more of a priority than the no. 1 seed getting to host at,” LaGrange athletic director Mike Pauley said “We are disappointed, but I don’t want our people making excuses or saying that we got cheated. But we are disappointed that in the spirit of competition that we could not move the site.”

A meeting was held Thursday that included the athletic directors and head softball coaches from all four teams that participated in the region tournament — LaGrange, Trinity Christian, Troup and Whitewater. Starr’s Mill, which is located roughly 15 minutes away from Whitewater, also sat in to potentially offer a second option site.

The region had never formally agreed to a backup region tournament site in the case of a rainout.

“The one thing I learned from this is that we need to get it in writing that if the no. 1 seed or subsequent seeds can’t host for some reason then we will search for a site if possible,” Pauley said. “I felt like that was implied, but you can’t account for everything until it happens.”

One of the discussed problems was a lack of transportation to any other available alternative site. 

We sought consensus for an exception to the established rules. Multiple options were offered by region members in an attempt to play the games — these included moving the games to a different host site,” Region 4-AAAA secretary Bill Stikes wrote in an email to the LDN. “Some region members expressed concerns about student-athlete safety of wet fields, potential availability of officials and transportation availability that could be impacted by a potential move. The region athletic directors attempted to find a consensus to address concerns within the bylaws of the region as written but were unable to do so.”

Strikes said teams in the region are looking to amend this in the future, but it will have no effect on this softball season.

“I have already spoken with multiple athletic directors this evening and expect amendments to be proposed to our region bylaws that will hopefully prevent this situation from happening again,” Stikes wrote.  

“The no. 1 seed was Whitewater by virtue of the 3rd tiebreaker (run differential among tied teams),” Stikes wrote. “LaGrange and Whitewater had identical 10-2 region records, split during the regular season, and had the same winning percentage vs. the region top-4 teams; LaGrange beat Whitewater by 1 run but lost by 8, giving Whitewater the tiebreaker with a +7 differential vs. LaGrange’s -7 run differential.”

Whitewater claims the region title and will avoid a trip to Savannah to take part in a super regional at Wayne County, where the Grangers will be heading next week.

Instead, the Wildcats will host a super regional.

While the LaGrange softball team is left bewildered and stunned, Pauley hopes that this will galvanize them toward a deep playoff run.

“We had a chance to get the no. 1 seed in the regular season, but we didn’t so it is what it is,” Pauley said. “We are not victims, we followed the bylaws. 

“I hope they don’t live in the trap of the feeling that they got robbed or cheated.”

Whitewater athletic director Jason Barnes and softball coach Krista Wilson both declined to comment when contacted by the LaGrange Daily News.