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May 7, 2013

Roff Tigers caught up in Class A's legal woes

Ada —      Roff’s young and ever-improving baseball team didn’t get to play in the Class A State Tournament semifinals on Saturday. But it wasn’t because the Tigers didn’t earn the right.

     The third-ranked Tigers defeated Glencoe 12-5 in a first-round matchup Friday evening at Dolese Park in Oklahoma City.

     However, at this point, Roff doesn’t even know who will be in the opposite dugout for a semifinal showdown.

     When the Class A State Tournament bracket was first drawn up by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association, No. 1 Sterling was scheduled to meet No. 10 Wright City in the final first-round contest. That winner would face the Roff-Glencoe winner in the semifinals.

     But it was discovered that Wright City had played two more games than allowed under OSSAA’s regular season game limitation, and the Lumber Jax were forced to forfeit their first-round matchup, giving Sterling a bye and an automatic trip to the semifinals.

     Wright City appealed the decision and at some point Friday, a McCurtain County judge issued a temporary injunction that ordered the OSSAA to allow the Lumber Jax to participate in the state tournament.

     But just before Roff’s first-round contest started — the first pitch was at 4:53 p.m. — the OSSAA notified everyone involved in the tournament that the Tigers’ game with Glencoe would be the final first-round game of the day. Wright City officials were apparently notified on their way to Palmer Field that they would not be playing because the OSSAA was going to appeal the judge’s decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The appeal is expected to be filed Monday, but when the Supreme Court will hear the case and render a decision is anybody’s guess.

     So, the remainder of the tournament is in limbo.

     Whatever happens will directly impact the Roff Tigers. Will they have to wait and see who survives a first-round matchup between Wright City and Sterling, or will the high-powered Sterling team keep its bye and set up a battle of the Tigers in a semifinal contest?

     Even though Roff head coach Ead Simon and the entire baseball camp are forced to play the waiting game, Simon didn’t seem too concerned after the victory over Glencoe.

     “Everybody’s made this into a big deal. And it really doesn’t matter to me. It’s one day at a time,” he said.

     Nearly everybody is picking sides in this legal battle, and Simon has his own opinion. But he said his baseball team will be ready to go when it all gets worked out one way or another.

     “It’s been a huge deal. I will tell you this. Everybody wants to be down on the OSSAA, and it’s a tough spot for them to be in. It’s a tough call. They have things that have happened in the past, and they have rules they have to go by,” he said. “What’s the right thing to do? I have my opinion, and I’m not going to say it. It’s a hard spot for everybody. I don’t blame Wright City for fighting it, and I don’t blame the OSSAA for the decisions they make.”

     First-round winners Rattan and Cashion will join Roff in having every pitcher for their semifinal contests, but Cashion is the real benefactor. The 11th-ranked Wildcats will get to send ace Ty Reasnor back to the mound against No. 2 Rattan in a semifinal showdown. Reasnor struck out 17 in Cashion’s 3-1 quarterfinal upset of No. 4 Binger-Oney.

     “I was going to throw three different pitchers anyway,” Simon said. “I have these young pups up here, and I want them all to get a taste of it. We’re just getting up here and getting our feet wet. If we can stick around here and play, that’s great.”

     Wright City officials thought the controversy was over when the judge from McCurtain County ruled in their favor. They were surprised when the OSSAA stopped them Friday night en route to Dolese Park in Oklahoma City.

     “I'm just extremely disappointed for our kids,” Wright City superintendent David Hawkins told the Oklahoman. “I just thought we had an opportunity to go and let them compete, and that's not worked out for them. So, I'm just shocked at this point.”

     Wright City head coach Kyle Butler has been on record saying he wished he could take one for his team.

     “I’m not trying to cheat the system,” he said. “It was an honest mistake, and that’s why I hurt for my kids because it’s about them. If they would just punish me and take me out of the state tournament, maybe suspend me for games for the future, that’s fine.”

     Whatever happens, Roff’s young squad will be chomping at the bit to return to action.

     “When they tell us to play ball, we’re going to play ball and hopefully we’ll go play it right and play it well,” Simon said.

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