Assault On A Softball Field In Texas. Is Winning THIS Important?
I've been around youth sports for quite awhile now. I started at the rec level with my boys baseball then worked our way into the travel/select scene. At rec, it's all about fun, development, and an activity for the kids.
Once you slide up to that travel/select ball level, it's still about fun and development, however it becomes a heck of a lot more serious.
Kids tryout to make a team, and while a lot make it, some don't. Make a team and you aren't performing? There's a good chance you aren't coming back next season. A lot of pressure is placed on the kids to play well, but there's also a lot of pressure on the coaches to win.
Because of this, coaches have a tendency to instill bad habits in kids. Believe me, I've seen some very shady things done on a baseball field as a coach tries to win. Deception seems to be the favorite of all the coaches.
Texas baseball is widely regarded as some of the best in the country due to the ability to essentially play year round. I've been around Austin baseball and Amarillo baseball in my time. Amarillo isn't QUITE on the same level as Austin baseball, but it's still MUCH better than a lot of other places in the country. The coaches here are solid and do a great job of teaching kids some things that most places wouldn't even think about.
One of those rules typically applies to catchers, and while it's a rule, it should only be used in the proper context. If a runner is stealing a base, and the batter steps out of the box while the runner is moving, it's considered interference if the catcher goes to throw the ball to the base the runner is stealing and it hits the batter outside the batters box.
This happened in a high school softball game right here in Texas. The problem with it is the runner on base wasn't attempting a steal, therefore there was no reason for the catcher to throw it. It has sparked a HUGE debate over whether or not the catcher should've been thrown out of the game, suspended, removed from the team, etc. It's also sparked conversation about whether or not the coach should be fired and the team disqualified.
I can tell you that I've told my catchers before, if someone is stealing a base and the batter moves from the box, you still make the throw. If you can get the throw off and down the line, great. If it hits the batter though, then it'll be interference on the batter.
The difference between what I've told my catchers and what this catcher did are COMPLETELY different though. I've never told them to hit the batter on purpose, especially if there's no stolen base attempt. The runner was on second base, not third, so you can't even make the argument they were trying to pick them off.
Is this what baseball in Texas is coming to? Are we playing so dirty that we are willing to risk injuring players for the sake of a win? I've seen some dirty things happen on the field in Amarillo, and yes, Austin as well. This though is just giving Texas baseball and softball a bad name.