Chaffey softball team fighting an uphill battle

Chaffey College softball coach Jimmy Rodriguez was more than a little miffed last Wednesday when College of the Desert called to forfeit a game it was supposed to play at Chaffey in two hours.

Panthers athletic director Bob Olivera forced the Roadrunners hand and refused to accept the forfeit, telling the school to pick another day, any day.

The schools originally agreed on Tuesday but Desert came up with another excuse on why that wasnt good. The schools finally settled on April 14.

It turns out it isnt the first time Desert has tried to take the easy way out. It forfeited to Antelope Valley on March 5, because it supposedly didnt have enough players. But it was able to play three games two days later at a tournament hosted by Golden West.

What makes bailing on the games a little fishy is that Antelope Valley (26-4, 9-0) is the top team in the conference and Chaffey (20-14, 7-1) is second. Is it just coincidence that Desert couldn’t put a team on the field against the top two teams? Probably not.

Officials are now looking into the Desert-Antelope situatuation and might now require the teams to play that game as well.

The season has been a difficult one for Rodriguez, who has a solid team but would make the playoffs by default, just because the Foothill Conference is so weak. Getting to the playoffs isn’t the only goal, advancing once the Panthers get there is equally important.

But competing in such an inept conference isn’t helping, no matter what kind of nonconference games you manage to squeeze in.

SBVC, Victor Valley and Rio Hondo are a combined 17-63. Add in third place Mt. San Jacinto and it is a still-woeful 28-79. Barstow (0-27, 0-9) started the season with a team but folded. Victor Valley and San Bernardino Valley havent been competitive.

The former SBVC coach quit in September and the only reason the Wolverines have salvaged a season is that soccer coach Kristin Hauge, who played softball at Cal Poly Pomona when it had a team, stepped in.

It has been tough, Rodriguez said. We want to try and be competitive in the postseason but this makes it very difficult and our conference is losing credability.

Rodriguez is right. There might be a time when the conference does get better, maybe even good, and more teams are worthy of playoff consideration. But they aren’t likely to be given any benefit of the doubt because of the conference track record of futility.

It is tough to change perception. That has happened in women’s soccer which has gotten increasingly better but still got just two teams in the playoffs last fall.

Players from quality programs such as Chaffey and Antelope could also be passed over for postseason state honors because their conference is so weak. That’s too bad.