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BHS fumes over softball/prom ruling

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League won’t budge on rainout, forcing choice between game, dance

By Mark Manicone

Buford softball players had to choose between going to their prom and playing in the Upper State Playoffs championship game Friday evening, because the S.C. High School League would not delay their rained-out Thursday game until Saturday.
Parents, players, coaches and administrators were fuming Friday.
“These girls are being forced to make this impossible decision. They are being punished,” said Karen Dingler, whose daughter is a senior on the team. “I understand the need for rules, but when you are so inflexible and hurting innocent people because of a rule, that is unfair and unjust.
“This is just so frustrating,” she said.
Two Buford players ended up not going to Friday’s game, which was two hours away at Landrum High, near Spartanburg. Buford lost the game 15-0 in the fifth inning, due to the mercy rule.
Lancaster Superintendent Jonathan Phipps met with Landrum’s superintendent after Thursday’s rainout, and both schools were fine with moving the game to Saturday.
But the High School League said no. Phipps was not happy with that response.
“We asked them if we could move the game until Saturday because we have nine players involved with prom, and they basically said that’s not our problem,” Phipps said Friday. “Even when two superintendents agree to move a game, they won’t allow us to do that, and that’s just crazy.”
In an attempt to mitigate the damage, Lancaster High School Principal Rosalyn Mood invited the Buford girls who were not able to attend their prom to come to LHS’s prom. It is 7 p.m. Saturday at the Gateway Conference Center in Richburg.
Charlie Wentzky, the High School League’s assistant commissioner, is the official Phipps spoke with Thursday night. If enough players had chosen to forego the game to attend the prom and Buford had been forced to forfeit the game, it would have owed the league a $1,000 fine.
Wentzky said the schools are informed well ahead of time about the playoff schedule.
“The only way a game is pushed back is due to weather,” he said in an interview. “If both schools agreed for an earlier date” that would also be acceptable.
“The reason we don’t push back games is because it alters the brackets,” he said. “Maybe in this situation it doesn’t look that way, but we have rules. It may not affect this bracket, but we don’t want to push it.
“We have to be consistent. Otherwise we lose respect and credibility of this organization,” Wentzky said.
Phipps didn’t agree.
“I don’t want to be ugly, but if all we needed is a rule book, why would we need the high school league as an organization?” Phipps said. “Why then would you pay your administration to interpret these rules? It’s not a one-size-fits-all. Sometimes in life you need someone to interpret things.
“I understand the need to be consistent. We deal with disciplining kids, and with that you have to be consistent,” he said. “But we also deal with kids on a case-by-case basis to determine what’s best for the kids.
“We made every attempt to go around to do the right thing,” Phipps said.  “There’s a rulebook, but there’s also this thing called life.”

Follow reporter Mark Manicone on Twitter @mark_manicone or contact him at (803) 283-1152.