By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Arroyo High School’s softball team is not happy with the Mission Valley League’s decision to ask it to forfeit a 2-0 victory over South El Monte on April 2 for allegedly conducting an illegal pre-game batting practice. In fact, Arroyo has refused to acknowledge the forfeit in the league standings while it appeals the decision, even though no appeal date has been set and both teams are to meet for the final time Thursday in a game that will decide the league title.
The forfeit would have had no bearing on the league title had Arroyo (18-2, 12-1) not lost last week to Gabrielino 5-4. That opened the door for South El Monte (12-5, 11-2), whose only two losses have come against the Knights, though one is the game in question. (To continue, click thread)
If the forfeit is upheld, Arroyo’s league record would be 11-2 with South El Monte at 12-1. That means South El Monte could clinch at least a share of the league title if it defeats Rosemead today.
If the forfeit is not upheld, South El Monte can still finish in a tie with Arroyo if it wins Thursday, but the Knights would go to the playoffs as the league’s top entry because they won the season series.
“In our (league) bylaws, you can (pre-game) soft toss on the side using an underhand motion with whiffle balls,” Bunting said. “But they were using a full windmill motion and pitching to their batters like it was live pitching. That’s illegal. That is what we protested.”
South El Monte coach Laura Purcell disputes that but is even more upset with the penalty and how it was decided upon.
If this was a CIF-SS playoff game, it would result in an automatic forfeit. But Purcell says there is nothing in the Mission Valley League bylaws that call for an automatic forfeit, and she says voting has to be done by league principals, not athletic directors.
According to Bunting, at the Mission Valley League’s monthly meeting, the protest was heard and the league voted 3-1 to ask Arroyo to forfeit, with South El Monte and Arroyo not given a vote.
However, not all the voters were principals. In fact, Bunting says El Monte principal Keith Richardson was not present.
“First, I’m still sticky about what they say we did was wrong,” Purcell said. “Second, we’re not clear what the consequences should be if there was a violation. It’s not stated in our bylaws what the penalty is, and in fact, whenever there have been violations in the past, it has never resulted in a forfeit of a game.
“Third, it says in our bylaws that principals of the leagues make the decision, and clearly the voting wasn’t done by just principals, so yeah, we’re not just disputing what happened, but the actions that our league is taking because it’s unprecedented.
“We have to beat this team three times to win the league title. That doesn’t seem right, but that’s what they’re asking our kids to do.”
Bunting admits that penalties for an illegal batting practice aren’t stated in the league bylaws.
“It’s not spelled out, but the way I look at it, you should follow the CIF rules for illegal batting practice,” Bunting said. “That’s what the league decided.”
At stake also are the top seeds in Division 6, with Arroyo No. 2 and South El Monte No. 3 in last week’s polls.
“I’m just not comfortable with our league creating its own enforcement policy after the fact,” Purcell said. “It’s not fair to our players.”