Ray Lytle

The third strike that hit the plate

The other night my daughter had a softball game. It has been a tough season for my little Bella because she has been fighting a Wrist Injury since the second game and has been left sitting on the bench for most of the season. She still cant play the field but she was able to bat in the game Monday night. I am the coach of the team and it has been a fun but trying season thanks to injuries and rain outs

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The game Monday was a good game against a really good team but it was marred by what was the worst umpiring I have ever experienced as a coach. The home plate umpire was as bad as I’d ever seen. This is a kid who has umped before and has always done a good job but for whatever reason in this game he was simply Terrible. Embarrassingly terrible. My daughter was one of the victims of his sub par officiating.

She came up to the plate to hit for one of only a handful of times this year. The first pitch is one in which she rarely swings. My daughter is one of those hitters who is really strike zone conscious. In fact some of the other umpires in the league joke that with two strikes they know if she doesnt swing then it is a ball.

She was up and the first pitch came in on the inside of the plate about ankle level. it was called a strike. She stepped out and took a practice swing and then moved up on the plate realizing that this zone is obviously gonna be a low one. The next pitch was about thigh level but was 6 inches off the outside of the plate. Strike Two! This time she looked clearly frustrated as she stepped out. One of my base coaches asked the ump gently why the count was 0-2 not realizing that the horrible first pitch was called a strike. My daughter put her right foot in the batters box and took a breath before she put her left foot in. She then got in her stance and watched a ball come in so low that it hit the plate. Once again the ball hit the plate. My daughter did not swing. Strike Three!! She looked at the umpire, then looked at the catcher who turned her head down in shame and then turned to look at me with that “are you gonna do something” look.

I simply asked the umpire “did that hit the plate”? All he said was “it was a strike” I asked again “but did it hit the plate”? at this point the catcher did something very funny by using her hand to brush the plate off where the mark of the ball hitting was very clear. At that point I laughed and my daughter did too. It was at that point that I realized it was just a game and arguing with a kid who clearly had no idea how awful a job he was doing was something I shouldnt even consider doing so I said “okay”. I then put my hand around my daughter and walked with her back to the dugout. She was clearly frustrated and looked like she was done. She had that look like softball was something she never wanted to play again

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We sat on the bench in the dugout saying nothing for about twenty seconds before my daughter blurted out “none of those were strikes, what do I do when the ump is that bad”? I told her “you laugh” at that point we both laughed.

My daughter will be up to bat again. In fact it will be in a game we have tonight and she might get a hit a walk a groundout a flyout or even a strike out and it really wont matter. It wont matter because she will be  winner the second she steps in the batters box again.

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