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Two area softball teams raise 'off-field ruckus'


Carroll team's didn't fare well at last weekend's National Softball Association state tournaments.

But coaches of at least two county women's teams were more miffed at the playing conditions than they were at their own teams' performances.

The Wild Stallions were a mediocre 2-2, finishing fifth in a smallish 11-team NSA Class C-D state tournament field at McCollough Park in Laurel.

The Renegades, another entrant from the Carroll County Women's Softball League, was 0-2 there.

But those two teams nevertheless raised a little off-field ruckus.

Stallions manager Jim Hoffman and Renegades boss Kenita Peatte voiced complaints about field conditions at the NSA affair and rules they hadn't seen before the tournament.

Hoffman was the more animated of the two in his criticism of the two tournament fields, which he termed "antiques."

"I've been on cow pastures that were smoother," he said. "I've seen better field conditions in a Genstar cement pit."

Peatte said the teams' home diamonds at Springfield State Hospital in Eldersburg, "look like Camden Yards by comparison."

Firing off yet another round, Carroll Women's League president Hoffman added that, in NSA state tournaments, women generally get the poorer fields.

"I feel the women are discriminated against. The men get to play in beautiful places. Why do they [NSA] have to show up the women in a state tournament by putting them on fields like that?" he asked.

NSA State Director Tom O'Hara said his Laurel tournament director advised him Saturday morning that the Laurel fields hadn't been dragged and the foul line markings were crooked.

"I don't know if it was an oversight on the part of the city [which he said was responsible for field maintenance]. At that point, there was nothing we could do," said O'Hara. He said he would check with city officials.

O'Hara said the two Carroll teams registered only a week before the tournament and he didn't have enough time to advise them in advance of the rules.

Neither local team knew until Saturday morning, their managers said, that hitters start their at-bats with a 1-1 count, with a foul ball considered strike three -- and both were rankled.

O'Hara explained that the rule was invoked this year to speed games and that all NSA state tournaments in Maryland use it. He said teams on the regular NSA mailing list were advised in advance.

O'Hara acknowledged that women often play at smaller, less flashy facilities. But he explained that not enough women's teams sign up to justify renting bigger facilities, such as Upton in Glen Burnie or the Carroll County Sports Complex.

He said he has canceled scheduled women's tournaments this year at larger facilities in Ocean City and Silver Spring due to a lack of entries.

"I'd like to see the women's program grow," he said. "I was disappointed that only 11 teams showed up for our state tournament."

While he admitted that the Laurel location wasn't the best, "I can't commit to them until they commit to me," he said.

Now for my two cents' worth.

ENSA isn't to blame if the city dropped the ball on field prep, but it should have notified all teams of the altered rules in advance, by telephone if necessary. The job wasn't that hard, because there were only 11.

Giving each batter an automatic 1-1 count has a major effect on the game, and some clubs don't like it. They should have known about that rule in advance and had the opportunity to pull out of the tournament if they wanted.

With three softball sanctioning organizations -- NSA, the Amateur Softball Association and the United States Slow-pitch Softball Association -- competing for teams, small turnouts for tournaments are becoming common. This effects women disproportionately, because there are fewer women's teams.

Only 10 to 12 teams entered two other recent women's state tournaments. But renting a top complex such as Carroll's doesn't pay unless enough teams sign up.

One way around this problem, said Carroll County Men's Softball League official Frank Novotny, is to combine several tournaments at the same location. This, he maintains, will bring enough teams to pay the rent and give them a good place to play.

' Makes sense to me.


Local men's teams also did little of note in last weekend's state tournaments.

None of them finished anywhere near the top in either the United States Slow-Pitch Softball Association's Class B and C tourney or in the National Softball Association's Class D fray at the Carroll County Sports Complex.

Local teams in the D states were Eldersburg Inn (3-2), Looking Glass and the Hurricanes (2-2), and Random House and PRA (1-2).

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