PORTLAND, Oregon — The Central Iowa All-Stars won their final pool play game of the Little League Softball World Series 7-0 against Canada on Monday. The team finished pool play with a record of 3-1.
For the Central Iowa team to advance to the semifinals, they needed either the U.S. West team (undefeated 3-0) to win or score at least three runs vs. the U.S. Southeast team (2-1, a team Central Iowa already beat).
Southeast upset the West by a score of 8-0, and it looked like the girls from Iowa would be the odd team out of the complicated tiebreaker.
However, Little League officials determined the West lost the game on purpose in order to keep Central Iowa out of the semifinals. The West team, composed of South Snohomish Little League players from Washington state, had beaten Central Iowa by only one run in preliminary play, while they won their other two games by a combined score of 21-0.
The West reportedly did not start their top four players, and during the game the team was bunting with two strikes and swinging at balls in the dirt to record outs intentionally.
“It was very evident when they did the starting lineups, their four best players were on the bench,” Central Iowa coach Charlie Husak said in a phone interview. “Their top four hitters were their subs the previous night when we played them. It was very evident right away what was going on.”
While watching the game unfold, the Central Iowa girls also quickly realized what was happening.
“It took about half an inning for the girls to catch on,” Husak said. “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.”
Instead of disqualifying the West team, the officials determined there will be a one-game playoff.
“The Little League International Tournament Committee recently received credible reports that some teams did not play with the effort and spirit appropriate for any Little League game,” the organization said in a Tuesday morning press release, according to the Des Moines Register.
Central Iowa will face the West on Tuesday at 11 a.m. CT. The winner reportedly advances to the semifinals as the two-seed.
Chris Chadd, president of Central Iowa Little League, told Channel 13’s John Sears that Tuesday morning’s game is being played under protest and it has been filed officially with the LLWS. The Central Iowa team doesn’t want the West girls to be penalized, but they want the coaches to be removed from the West team.
The Little League rule book states:
“A manager or coach that takes any action that results in a travesty of the game that results in members performing poorly could be disqualified.”
“The girls are pretty pumped right now (to play against the West team),” Husak said. “We’re ready to play, its 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.”