No love lost for tiebreaker
The rule is designed to speed up play and decide a winner promptly.
But fans at the Valley-Burrell softball game Thursday night at California (Pa.) University wished the international tiebreaker rule had never been installed.
Players and coaches agreed: Leave second base open and finish the game naturally. Why couldn't the final three innings of this instant A-K classic, this historic showdown between archrivals, be played out the same way as the other nine?
"I still hate that rule -- really hate it," said Valley coach Carol Perroz, whose Vikings won, 5-4, in 12 innings. "I am happy we won, but I never liked that rule. You want the game to be decided on the field, the way it was meant to be."
When the score is tied after nine innings, a base runner is automatically placed at second base to start each inning. The rule went into effect last year in the WPIAL. As long as the initial batter doesn't strike out, she can advance her teammate to third and set up the go-ahead run quickly.
"If we didn't have that rule, we might have played until 1 a.m.," Burrell junior outfielder Kaitlyn Sweeney said. "We didn't like that rule (in the final), but we did (when Burrell used it to win against Sto-Rox in the semifinals). It's just tough because it can go either way so quickly."
The teams showed they could create drama and excitement on their own in the ninth inning.
Claire Fisher's grounder got past Valley second baseman Allison Rayburn, allowing Tess Napierkowski and Katie Uzelac to score and make it 3-1. But Valley answered: Casey Bonk doubled and reached third on an error, then followed Kelsey Bonk home on Katrina George's sharp grounder, which made it 3-3.
"The game should be played out," Casey Bonk said. "You don't need that rule. It's almost like cheating."
In the 12th, Nina Spagnolo drove home Fisher, who started the inning on second, to make it 4-3. But Valley scored twice to win: Bonk, who began the inning at second, scored to tie it, 4-4. Nealer laid down a sacrifice bunt to move George to second; she advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring on Maureen Pallone's single to right.