It never fails, Alhambra will likely forfeit after another illegal batting practice fiasco

I’ve gone on record many times saying I do not like the CIF-SS playoff rule that prohibits pre-game batting practice. Not that it’s a bad rule, but the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Still, every year it happens, and it may have happened to Alhambra’s softball team in its 3-2 win over fourth-seed Duarte in the Division 5 playoffs opening round. In fact, if Duarte goes through with this, I don’t see how CIF couldn’t rule in the their favor after the comments from Alhambra coach John Zabala to our reporter immediately afterward: “We do it the way we always do,” Zabala said of the pregame warm- ups. “We take about five feet off to the side and we use wiffles. We kind of teach our girls that we get beat on the field.” That’s great that he’s honest, but honesty will likely result in a forfeit, which is a shame. I’ve always thought a more reasonable punishment would be to lose a home playoff game, a suspension of coach or players involved, and it you commit it again, you forfeit the next time. I just hate seeing players end their seasons, and in the case of seniors, their careers ending over something like this. I know I’m in the minority, most don’t agree with me on this, but I do agree with Zabala about one thing, you win on the field and you lose on the field. But it’s never that simple, right?

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  • Freddie,

    It may be a stupid rule, but how stupid do you have to be to break it? HAPPENS EVERY YEAR! Seriously, I don’t get why teams can’t figure this out.

  • its sad

    It’s sad that Duarte has to advance in the playoffs like this. I knew all year that they woudn’t do anything in the playoffs. Look at their league. Embarrassing. Everyone hyped them because of their “outstanding record”. Their coach should be embarrassed to have to film them doing something illegal and wait to use it in case they lost. I hope he brings the video camera against South El Monte

  • TeachDGame

    I am with ARAM….. come on Coach, how STUPID ARE YOU… and I don’t like to call coaches stupid in, but come on, this is A KNOWN RULE, every year it hits someone. “We do it how we always do it”…. Fire the Coach, really, he ruined it for the Players…

  • AMAT 73

    Whether you like the rule or not it is the rule. I am sure every coach has a copy of the CIF rule book on their desk . Follow the rules and your fine , break them and you suffer . Shame on the coach for ending his players season in this manner.

  • FredJ

    I spoke with CIF this morning and they’re aware of the incident. A decision, however, will likely not be made until at least Monday. Duarte apparently has video that CIF will want to review, first.

  • Steve Ramirez

    In this case, it sounds like they did break the rule, because based on his comments, it sounds like an organized batting practice. I don’t think the coach made the right call, for one, having organized BP, and two admitting as such on the record.
    But Amat73, yes it is a rule, but not every violation is cut and dry, black and white. There are some where there is a bit of gray, like the South Hills case last year, where while the players where taking swings at whiffle golf balls, it was a limited few and not authorized by the coaching staff, which in my view is the key.

  • 888

    His comments said they were off to the side meaning from the side soft toss with wiffles. Seriously are you kidding me thats not batting practice and is very much legal. Organised batting practice is a coach throwing hard balls or using a machine to throw hard balls you people need to get a clue and it is a stupid rule, in college front toss is legal and part of warm ups why not high school? oh thats right I heard because home team has the advantage right” but every team plays at home at some point. Bogus I bet most of you have never thrown a wiffle in your life fricken un believable lmao………………………….

  • Steve Ramirez

    888: According to the rule, which is on the CIF-SS website, organized soft toss. – with wiffle balls or softballs/baseballs – is a violation. I think the key is “organized,” which by definition is a coach’s authorization. And the reason the rule is in place is because the visiting team might have to travel a long distance, and no time to have batting practice, so the rule levels the playing field. But like any law, there are gray areas and thats where CIF-SS comes into play, like a trial court. In most college tournaments, most teams are already in town, so both have time to take pre-game batting practice.

  • Akmed Foley

    Not a good rule, It needs to be updated and clarified. The punishment definately does not fit the crime. I bet the rule was meant to keep a team from taking live batting practice via machine or pitcher prior to a game, Not side wiffels.I would not want to advance let alone be taken out by such a lame rule. Why wasn’t it brought up to officials before the game started, Instead they hid the fact that if they lost They could use it against the other team and beat them that way, Way Lame- Total Fail!

  • iteachicoach

    Hello Fred,

    As an educator and a coach for over 22 years and seeing other coaches enforce this rule effectively in a play-off game(San Marino about 5 years ago I think?) I have to say that if the side toss was 5 ft away and given from the knee, then no infraction! If they were standing up and directly in front of the batter, then Duarte may have a case:(. Although, as the Alhambra coach stated clearly and I agree with….(I paraphrase) “beat my team on the field with your playing ability” and as a fan I would add…don’t be so petty as try and bring in a rule that is clearly meant to disallow the toss from DIRECTLY in front of your hitter to SIMULATE a pitch. Come on, five feet, give me a break! I have told every coach, that I have seen do anything close to a front toss, that has ever played against me in pre-season, tournament, or league game, to be very aware of their actions because I would never want them to be accused of the violation and to have it be upheld by CIF. Duarte should take the loss with their heads held high for putting together a great record and great regular season for themselves, but on this game day, it just wasn’t meant to be. I wish Alhambra the best of luck in the rest of the play-offs!


    Hello Fred:

    After having a long conversation with my child who played last week it seems that our coaches might of lied and put our school to shame by not following the rules.
    I do not agree on this batting rule but if it was broken by us then we should abide by it.
    It seems that our coaches are teaching our children how to CHEAT and Lie, and not how to follow the rules and win in that way as it was stated by us.
    I am so sick and tired of our Athletic Director and Coaches not following the rules and putting the blame on the players and other schools.
    After talking to my daughter and some of the other players, they have said, they dont feel right to move on this way, but they would like to replay this game somehow.
    We beat them once before we can beat them again!
    Let me say that our girls did play a great victorious game but we did have an advantage over them and that there was batting practice before the game.
    Once again coaches GREAT JOB! For following the rule D– S–ts
    Duarte anytime youre looking for a softball beating just call on us!

  • Fred Robledo

    AHS parent, I don’t know that your coach was “cheating,” that would imply he knew the rule and knowingly took batting practice anyway. Should he have known the rule, yes. But almost always, and I’m sure this is the case, he simply wasn’t aware of it, which is why a batting practice protest comes up almost every year, and it’s a shame because it’s a harsh penalty and you’re right, the players pay for it deeply. That’s why personally, it’s not a protest I would file, but that’s just my opinion, I can see why others feel differently. Since this is an adult/administrator mistake, why not suspend a coach for a game as a first offense, and if you do it again, then you forfeit a game.

  • ashamed

    AHS parent… you should seriously be ashamed of yourself! you make me sick! I bet your daughter sits on the bench while you eat your sunflower seeds and criticize the other players that out played your daughter to make the starting line up. I have know Coach Zabala for many years and the last thing he would ever do is CHEAT or LIE! He is one of the most honest men in the game and will tell you how it is with no sugar coating. He is the number one supporter of AHS softball and has given up so much of his time to build a strong foundation for the AHS softball organization. What happens in-between the lines on the field should determine who moves on. Don’t punish the girls for there hard work. Maybe CIF should take a step back and clarify the rule, by the sounds of it this rule comes into question every year. Look at the facts. Alhambra won the game fair and square! Alhambra and Duarte took the same batting practice! Only thing was Alhambra’s player was standing up and Duarte players were on a knee. Seriously… You have got to be kidding me! AHS parent you should take a long look in the mirror on why you would say those things because you are a true disappointment to the softball community. What you should do is show your face and fall on your own words because I bet you are a parent that has been a poison all year long. How dare you try to ruin AHS softball. Coach Zabala would never teach anything but the right thing. And like I said before, you make me sick.

  • just sayin’

    ashamed – the rule comes up every year because coaches are either ignorant of the rules, think it won;t be enforced, or have no control over the players and haven’t made it clear they can’t do it on their own.
    the ones who should be ashamed are those whop think rules that govern “outside the lines” don;t matter. Good life lesson to learn, that you haven’t grasped yet – ALL rules matter

  • Hello

    just sayin –
    yes, rules matter. I agree, however I agree with ashamed and feel that person is right on. Your dealing with each persons interprtaion of words. Should be on a knee?? May have to forfit? Sorry but those rules are not clear. Also the Duarte coach said that AHS did batting practice to get the “edge” on the Duarte. That is pitaful. He should give up coaching if he feels that a season filled with hard practice and work can be over thrown buy 5 minutes of wiffle ball toss. You all need to grow up and move on. AHS won the game. Duarte you lost. Move on


    Let me start off by thanking the AHS Softball Coaches and all of the girls that played their hearts out and taking this team and the program as far as you have.

    As for you “AHS Parent”: You should be nothing but ashamed of YOURSELF. You’re not the one suffering, it’s the girls and and the coaches and just think, now your daughter has to live with the fact that she has to live with your comments that you have made and how you are handling yourself. Anonymous or not, you know what you are doing. Talking behind coaches backs, pretending to be a supporter and then this. This is the first year for all of the Varsity coaches. For them to do what they have with the program in one season is remarkable. All the time they have dedicated. The relationships they have created with these girls and the respect they have earned it’s just a glimse of how great of coaches they are. You will have a hard time ever finding such dedication and LOVE that these coaches bring to the team and the program. You say the girls are being taught how to cheat and lie (which is beyond ridiculous and A LIE), what are you teaching your daughter? How to be deceitful by talking behind someone’s back. If Coach says he didn’t know, THEN HE DIDN’T KNOW!! With all the rules and regulations with regular season then with playoffs, one can easily get confused or forget. I don’t see you stepping up and applying to be a coach. Oh wait, maybe that’s the case, you probably did and got DENIED!!! WHATEVER THE CASE, if you have an issue with someone go to the source!!