The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Sports Columns

June 14, 2014

Did Cougars lose title intentionally?

Baseball has always been my favorite spectator sport. Softball follows close at its heels for obvious reasons.

It will not surprise most that on Saturday morning my sports viewing turned to Fox Sports Indiana's coverage of the IHSAA state softball championships.

The Class A title game between the North Miami Warriors and the North Davies Cougars was only in the second inning and there was a lot of softball, it turns out, left to be played.

At the beginning, I had no rooting interest. I had a curiosity to see North Miami's pitcher/infielder Josie Wood, who hit .629 on the season with 32 of her 56 hits going for extra bases — 14 of them home runs. Should you think that she played in small parks, it should also be known that she had 11 triples, a feat unlikely to occur in small confines.

I had missed her first plate appearance, where she doubled. It turns out I had missed my chance to see her hit.

North Davies head coach Jodi Graber Berry decided to intentionally walk Wood each of the next four times she came to the plate. Twice she was the leadoff hitter and once more she was the second hitter. It turned out to be her undoing.

The second time Berry walked Wood, her team was ahead 1-0 and it was the top of the sixth. Wood walked and scored to tie the game later in the inning.

Four inning later Wood got her final intentional pass with one out and the bases empty. That triggered a two-run outburst that lifted the Warriors to a state championship.

I found myself cheering for North Miami.

I have no objection to strategic intentional walks. There are times when it makes good sense. For instance, when first base is open with a runner on second and a double play would end the inning. Or when frirst base is open and the next hitter is batting from the same side of the plate from which the pitcher throws.

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