When will officiating in Oklahoma be addressed?
By Kyle Salomon,
Last Friday evening in Norman at the L. Dale Mitchell Park on the campus of the University of Oklahoma, I witnessed the worst call I have ever seen in high school sports.
The Jenks Trojans were taking on the Stillwater Pioneers in the state tournament semifinal game, with the winner advancing to play Bishop Kelley on Saturday afternoon for the state championship.
The game was evenly matched as both teams had dominant pitchers on the mound. Each squad was able to muster enough offense to score two runs, but the score remained tied at two apiece after seven innings of play, which sent the contest into extras.
Jenks was the visiting team, so they were batting in the top half of the inning. The Trojans got a runner on second base with nobody out, but failed to execute and get the runner across the plate. The score remained knotted at two heading toward the bottom half of the inning with the Pioneers coming up to bat.
Stillwater got the bases loaded with two outs against the Jenks starting pitcher. The next Stillwater at bat would start the chaos that erupted at the end of the game.
Jenks started off the Pioneer batter with two pitches in the dirt that were clearly balls, but the 2-0 and 3-0 pitches were in baseball terms, right down the pipe. The catcher’s glove didn’t move as the Trojan pitcher spotted up two fastballs.
On both pitches, the home plate umpire stood there and called them balls, which walked in the winning run for Stillwater, advancing the Pioneers to the state championship game and ending Jenks’ season.
The Trojan coaching staff, players and fans erupted in disbelief as did the rest of the people in attendance at the ballgame.
Jenks coaches had to hold back their players from getting to the home plate umpire, who was taking his sweet time leaving the field.
Trojan players were yelling obscenities at the blue, and the umpire was screaming them back at the players and coaches before leaving the field.
Now, a lot of people will assume I am just writing this article out of sour grapes because I am a Jenks alum and was a baseball player for the Trojans almost a decade ago.
However, this article is not about Jenks not having the opportunity to win the baseball game and advance to have an opportunity at a state title on the diamond. This article is about the lack of quality officiating throughout the state of Oklahoma when it comes to high school sports.
The truth is, I would write the article if it had happened to Tulsa Union or even Yukon because what happened was just flat out wrong in every way possible.
This kind of error doesn’t just happen in baseball, it happens in every single high school sport across Oklahoma. As long as the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association continues to ignore the fact that their officials are below average, the integrity of high school sports in our great state will be under strict questioning.
I don’t know if that home plate umpire had a vendetta against Jenks that night or if he was just ready to go home, but it was clear he had made the decision to take the game into his own hands and crush the dreams of winning a state championship for those young men from Jenks.
Imagine the devastation those kids went through after spending countless hours working their tails off to have the opportunity to win a state title, only to have it taken away by a cowardly umpire in a state semifinal game.
The message needs to be simple and clear to the OSSAA – high school athletics in this state is way too important and way too good to have it ruined by the worst officiating system in the nation. Something has to change, and it starts with the OSSAA.