A scandal rocked the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore., this week when a team from Snohomish, Wash., allegedly threw a game to prevent an Iowa team from advancing to the semifinals.
The Central Iowa All-Stars won their most recent game against Canada 7-0 and finished pool play with a 3-1 record. To advance to the semifinals, however, they needed the Snohomish team, US West, to win or score at least three runs against a team that Central Iowa had already defeated.
It’s important to note that West had already secured a berth in the semis. During pool play, it rolled past two opponents but barely beat Central Iowa. So the team was accused of intentionally losing its game against the US Southeast team to ensure that Southeast advanced — and not Central Iowa.
To avoid that rematch, West allegedly benched its starters, swung at pitches in the dirt and bunted on two-strike counts, resulting in an 8-0 loss. The team did not record a single hit.
Iowa coach Charlie Husak told WHO-TV that he thought West’s intentions were clear from the start.
” ‘It was very evident when they did the starting lineups, their four best players were on the bench,’ 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.’ …
“It took about a half 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.’ ”
The Des Moines Register quotes the president of Central Iowa Little League, Chris Chadd, as saying, “It’s not the girls’ fault. It’s the coaches’… they should be disqualified.”
Iowa filed a protest. The Register reports that Little League International officials issued this statement early Tuesday:
“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.”
Officials ruled that there would be a one-game playoff between West and Central Iowa on Tuesday to determine which team would advance to the semis.
“The girls are pretty pumped right now [to play against the West team],” Husak told WHO-TV. “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.”
Update 2:45 p.m. ET: Central Iowa Wins
Central Iowa defeated US West 3-2 to advance to the semifinals of the Little League Softball World Series. The Des Moines Register provided the following recap:
“Iowa erased a one-run deficit by scoring two runs in the top of the third inning on an RBI double and a Washington error to take its deciding advantage. Iowa pitcher Mikayla Houge recorded six strikeouts over the final three innings and 11 on the morning to help seal the victory.
“Washington stranded a pair of runners in both the third and fourth innings, but did not have a hitter reach base in the final two frames.”
Iowa’s semifinal game is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT Tuesday against the East qualifier from Rhode Island. You can watch the game on ESPN2.