Say it ain't so: Game-fixing scandal rocks Softball LLWS
The 2014 Little League World Series was rocked by controversy when United States champion Jackie Robinson West out of Chicago was alleged to have used ineligible players.
The scandal lasted months -- into 2015 -- and culminated with Little League International stripping the team of its national championship in February of this year.
Fast forward to August 2015, and it’s the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore., embroiled in controversy, with the allegations far more stunning.
According to multiple reports, a team from Snohomish, Wash., threw a game against a team from North Carolina on Monday, losing on purpose to force a three-way tie in the U.S. division that would eliminate the Iowa team Washington wanted to avoid in a potential rematch in the championship game.
And it’s the way the Washington team allegedly threw the game that has people in Portland -- and Central Iowa -- both stunned and fuming.
According to the Des Moines Register, Washington was no-hit by North Carolina as the Washington team benched starters and simply had every batter try to bunt.
Des Moines NBC affiliate WHO-TV added that Washington coaches sat their four best players, had players bunt with two strikes, and told them to swing at balls in the dirt. WHO spoke with Central Iowa coach Charlie Husak over the phone Monday night, who said:
"It was very evident when they did the starting lineups, their four best players were on the bench. Their top four hitters were their subs the previous night when we played them. It was very evident right away what was going on. ...
"It took about a half inning for the girls to catch on. We were trying to keep it from them, but you could see when they caught on that the tears started to pile up. It was pretty emotional."
The loss left Washington, North Carolina and Iowa tied atop the Pool B standings with 3-1 records. But only two teams advanced from each pool to Tuesday’s semifinals, and because of the score of the Washington-North Carolina game, Iowa was the odd team out.
Iowa reportedly filed a protest following the Washington loss. According to the Des Moines Register, "Little League Softball World Series officials did not overturn the outcome of the controversial game. So the Iowans appealed to the governing body, Little League International."
The result of that appeal, according to the Associated Press and other multiple reports, was a one-game playoff between Iowa and Washington to be played Tuesday at 9 a.m. PT, the winner advancing to the semifinals as the 2-seed.
"The girls are pretty pumped right now [to play against the West team]," Husak told WHO. "We’re ready to play, it's going to be an early-morning game. We have to play at 9 a.m. PT, but the girls have a little bit of a chip on their shoulders. They are going to fight for everything they have."
But not all people affiliated with Iowa Little League are pleased with the decision to have the playoff game.
"It's a cop-out," Central Iowa Little League president Chris Chadd told the Des Moines Register. "It's not the girls' fault. It's the coaches … they should be disqualified."
When the teams do meet on the field Tuesday, don’t expect any pleasantries to be exchanged between coaches or fans.
According to Deadspin:
"One Deadspin reader reports the lobby of the tournament hotel was full of ‘pissed off Iowans’ today."