PONTE VEDRA BEACH — An untimely change of an umpiring crew left Mosley softball coach Brian Wilke uncertain if his team competed on a level playing field Monday in the Region 1-5A finals.
Not long after Mosley suffered a 1-0 loss to Ponte Vedra in the Region 1-5A finals, the typically mild-mannered, soft-spoken Wilke was bothered by what he described as “something fishy” relating to the umpire crew overseeing the game on the Sharks’ home field.
Wilke said he was notified by Ponte Vedra’s athletic director shortly before the game that an umpiring crew from Tallahassee had canceled and would not oversee the contest that would determine the region’s entrant in this week’s Class 5A state semifinals.
“He said, ‘We’ve got to change umpires, and we’ve got this group from near here that can come and do it in an hour,’ ” Wilke said. “I’ve been around a lot, and experience tells me something is not right. It might be something simple. I might be blowing it up too big. But something’s not right. I know umpires have a tough job. I’ve done it. I know they can mess up. But this is a situation I am not comfortable with.”
At the heart of the issue after the game, Wilke said, was the bottom of the fifth inning when Ponte Vedra scored the game’s only run. Claudio Cotto singled with one out, and Taylor Bradshaw and Morgan Podany each walked with two outs to load the bases. Jacobson fell behind 1-2 in the count against Mosley starter Katie Lopes but worked the count full. She fouled off two pitches before drawing a walk that drove in Cotto with the eventual game-winning run.
“They definitely missed some pitches in that inning,” Wilke said. “I let them know about it, but you can’t argue balls and strikes too long. … Some of those were strike three. … Katie has never walked three in one inning in her life.”
Because of the original umpires’ cancellation, the game was delayed nearly an hour. Wilke said his team had just finished warming up for the game when it was notified of the delay, and he said he was “proud of my girls” for playing through the logistical hiccups on the road.
Wilke repeatedly praised Ponte Vedra, which is the top-ranked team in Class 5A and now 27-0 overall, and the Sharks’ starting pitcher, Avery Geehr, who held Mosley to two hits and never allowed a runner past second base.
“I don’t want to take anything away from them,” he said. “They’re a good club.”
Wilke said he was told the umpires were selected from the River City Umpires Association, and he added that he was assured after the game that none of the umpires had called a Ponte Vedra game this year.
“It just should not have come down to all of these things when you’re playing a game of this magnitude,” Wilke said.
Mosley, which was trying to advance beyond the regional tournament for the first time in program history, ended its season 17-7.
The Dolphins’ Graysen Gladden slapped a leadoff single in the fourth, and a sacrifice bunt advanced her to second. Geehr induced a strikeout and a groundout from Mosley’s next two hitters, however, to wiggle out of trouble.
Jill Johnson had the Dolphins’ only other hit in the second inning. Mosley did not put a runner on base in the final three innings.
Lopes ended the game with nine strikeouts and four hits allowed. She walked four.
Sneads 5, Wewahitchka 4
Sneads clinched its place in the Class 1A state semifinals with a narrow victory over Wewa in the Region 1-1A finals. Sneads will contend with Chiefland in the state semis on Friday.
Jay 6, Port St. Joe 5
Port St. Joe came up just short in the Region 3-1A final in a season-ending loss to Jay, which will face Bell in the state semifinals on Friday.