With a spot in the State Little League tournament on the line, a team of 11 and 12-year-olds from Mercer Island and Bellevue were scheduled to play Eastlake-Sammamish for the district title game — but both teams were disqualified because they were unable to field 9 players.
The Bellevue Reporter reports that local Little League officials refused to reschedule the game and instead recognized a team of players from Sno-Valley North/Falls/Snoqualmie little leagues as district champions. That team was already eliminated by the Mercer Island/Bellevue West/Thunderbird team on June 28 by a score of 10-2.
The District 9 final was two days behind schedule due to rain at Cedar Crest High School in Duvall. Meanwhile, several players from Mercer Island, Bellevue, Eastlake and Sammamish were also committed to play in the National Softball Association (NSA) state tournament on the same day (NSA "select" teams are a different youth sports association). Both teams had informed District 9 officials of the commitments weeks before the tournament started.
The Eastlake-Sammamish All Stars had won all three of their district tournament games, and the Mercer Island-Bellevue team had won twice — losing to Eastlake-Sammamish 4-1 on June 24.
"We were literally never informed we could be disqualified," said MILL Majors Softball All Star coach Taia Walters. "I found out from a text message from District 9 on Saturday afternoon."
District 9 Commissioner Bob Toigo declined comment and referred all questions to Little League International. Mercer Island Patch was unable to reach officials there due to the July 4 holiday.
Softball parent Carla Barokas said Little League District 9 officials were immediately notified that the tournament schedule overlapped with other "select" softball organizations and they moved the majors tournament schedule to a date several days earlier — but not far enough, thanks to the inclement weather. Barokas called the lack of coordination between the various competitive youth leagues "ridiculous".
"Without the All Star possibility, local little league loses much of it's appeal," she said. "It's just too much to expect from girls and their families to do both."
Mercer Island Patch is has a call in to Mercer Island Little League Commissioner Chad Rowe on the disqualification.