By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — By OHSAA rules, the Covington Lady Buccs can claim a 5-2 victory over Minster in a game that was called in the top of the seventh inning due to rain.
But it is unknown at this time whether or not the remainder of the game will eventually be made up. Hopefully it is continued because of how things went down – the unfortunate and unexpected circumstances that materialized at the time the game was being called.
First, Covington built a 5-2 lead thanks to three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to break a 2-2 tie. A steady drizzle of rain then began in the sixth and gradually increased into the top of the seventh.
In the top of the seventh, Covington relief pitcher Emma Dammeyer had trouble gripping the wet ball and began slipping on the wet, muddy surface more and more with each pitch.
After a lead-off base hit by Minster, Dammeyer walked two straight batters on nine pitches to load the bases with no outs. In the process, Dammeyer requested and was awarded a devise to clean her cleats and a towel to try to keep the ball dry – all to no avail.
With the fourth Minster batter coming to the plate, the field umpire suddenly called for a timeout as the rain increased. Instead of immediately discussing the situation with the home plate umpire, the field umpire walked to the Covington dugout to discuss the situation with Covington coach Mechelle Heitkamp.
“Your pitcher is slipping all over the place out there and I think we should end the game so nobody gets hurt,” the field umpire said to Heitkamp.
Stunned and confused, Heitkamp shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t want to see anyone get hurt either.”
Immediately the field umpire turned to the home plate umpire who was walking toward the dugout himself and said, “The pitcher is slipping out there and I think we should end it (the game) right now so nobody gets hurt”, which the home plate umpire agreed.
The umpires then turned around and instructed the players to “shake ‘em up, the game is over”.
The Minster coach, obviously and justifiably upset, tossed his hat across the infield while addressing the umpires on the timing of their decision. All the while, the Minster faithful – obviously upset as well – voiced their displeasure from behind the backstop to the wrong individual, Covington coach Mechelle Heitkamp.
“I had nothing to do with it (the game being called),” she said, still confused on how things went down. “Why the field umpire came to me before going to the home plate umpire is beyond me. It just made me and my team look bad when we had nothing to do with the decision to call the game.”
The proper procedure is for the two umpires to converse together and make the decision to call the game – then bring both coaches out to the field and inform them of their decision and why. That didn’t happen.
In the grand scheme of things, the the decision to end the game was the right decision for the safety of the players on the field – but it probably should have been ended after six innings because the conditions at that time were just as unsafe as they were when the game was called.
Regardless, by rule the game ends as a 5-2 victory – unless both Covington and Minster choose to schedule a date to finish the contest – something Heitkamp wants to do.
“I don’t want to win this way and I don’t think my girls do either,” Heitkamp said. “If it can be made up, I’d like to finish it. It’s out of my control.”
Up to the point where the game was called, it was an exciting contest from the start.
Minster broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third as an errant Covington throw to third bounced off a Wildcat runner’s helmet and into the outfield.
Covington responded in the bottom of the third with a towering solo home run by senior Justice Warner – who had already made the defensive play of the game from center field by throwing out a Minster runner on a one-hopper to home plate in the second inning.
Minster threatened in the top of the fourth, but pitcher Emma Dammeyer snagged a hard hit ball up the middle and threw to catcher Mackenzie Long for an out at home and Long immediately tossed a dart to first for the double play.
Covington then took a 2-1 lead on an RBI single by Ashley Cecil in the bottom of the fourth, but Minster followed with a run in the top of the fifth thanks to an error by Covington.
The Lady Buccs plated three runs in the bottom of the fifth and neither team could score in the sixth to set up the odd circumstances of the top of the seventh.
In all, Covington wrapped 12 base hits to six for Minster, but the Lady Buccs committed three costly errors in the contest.
Justice Warner had three hits, including a home run, while Ashley Cecil connected on three base hits as well.
Lexie Long and Emma Dammeyer both went three innings with Dammeyer picking up the win (if the game is not resumed).
As of now, the game stands as a Covington win, which pushes its record to 5-0 on the season.
If the rest of the game is continued at a later date, Minster is at bat in the top of the seventh with bases loaded and no outs.