June 11, 2014 — Let me start this by saying I, in no shape or form have 20/20 vision.
If you follow high school sports, you likely know the controversial ending of the Johnson Central vs. Ashland elimination game at the Worth/KHSAA State Softball Tournament this past Friday in Owensboro. The Golden Eagles were down 1-0 and down to their final strike of their season when Rachelle Fairchild hit what everyone saw was a walkoff two-run homerun to defeat the Kittens 2-1. The first base umpire waved her finger around signaling the ball had left the field.
But Ashland coach Dave Miller believed he saw it differently. Centerfielder Sydney Whitt appeared to have crashed in to the makeshift fence (the game was played on an adult’s men’s softball field and needs fences to mark a softball field at Jack C. Fisher Park). He was unsure whether the ball went under the fence or bounced over the fence, which would make it a ground-rule double. After telling the officials to get together, they ruled Fairchild hit a ground-rule, double which sent a wave of boo’s all across the state. Ashland would then eliminate Johnson Central and move on in the state tournament.
Video footage from WYMT-TV in Hazard clearly shows Fairchild hit a homerun. The Ashland outfielders threw their gloves down, having the best advantage of the play, seemingly knowing they were eliminated from the tournament. Miller told our sister paper, The Independent that he saw the third base umpire signal a ground rule double. Several people saw the first base official called it a home run. Wouldn’t the umpire who had the clearest vantage point overrule the one furthest from the play?
After the video was released across all social media platforms, the KHSAA had no choice but to respond to the incident.