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The Press Box for May 1

By Staff | May 1, 2019

There’s something I’ve heard a lot this season. It’s come from all directions in both high school baseball and softball. “Where’s the Strike Zone?” In the past, most of the complaining came from fans and parents with an occasional objection from coaches. This is one of those years where no one can figure it out, what seems to be happening is a lack of consistent calling when it comes to the strike zone. I have heard it at every game I have attended and have witnessed it with my own eyes.

A couple weeks back I watched as a batter stood in the box without swinging, the ball went off the mask of the catcher, straight into the air and over the backstop. What looked like a passed ball that would have advanced runners was instead called a foul ball. This brought a coach out of the dugout and another shaking his head. The behind the plate umpire said the batter swung and it went off his bat. “Foul ball he insisted.” That call was a flagrant mistake which cost a team two runs and the game.

During the same game, “my camera as a witness,” the umpire missed three straight strikes right down the middle. With a 3-0 count he then called two strikes that weren’t close, to even the count, the next one looked good but again didn’t meet his standards so the batter got a base. Next batter up cracked one to the fence for the game winning run.

This has been happening on a regular basis and it’s left opposing coaches trying to figure it out. One coach politely asked his opposing coach right in front of the umpire where he got the bums at. The ump must have agreed, he never spoke up in defense. Really though, I have watched baseball all my life and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen inconsistency. Batters don’t know whether to swing or not! It’s just been plain bad and it sure is tough on some good pitchers and equally as good for some bad pitchers. For once I have to say I don’t blame you, for getting on the umpires. I’ve felt like it myself a few times and had to hold back. I must admit I spoke a few things under my breath that shouldn’t be said.

With the sectional baseball games about to start I sure hope the umpires try and get the majority of the calls right, it can make a difference in who advances and who goes home. As a sportswriter I don’t often take sides, so I’m not writing this because I’m prejudice towards umpires, but what I’ve seen has occurred at nearly every one of the 39 games I’ve watched so far. It’s just not fair to the kids or their schools when games are won or lost because of the incompetence of umpires.

We all know everyone makes mistakes and we’re willing to except that, however, this season at least in this area, they have not only lost the strike zone but also the respect they should deserve. I have seen many good calls on the bases but the bad at the plate far outweighs the good. Ask anyone they will tell you, this is not a figment of my imagination. I don’t think!

The upcoming regional track meet should be a dandy. The Silver Knights are really looking good and with a little help they could come away the winner.

The competition is tough but so are the Knights. They are certain to send a good amount of kids to the state track meet with a good chance of bringing home some hardware. Paden City will also send several kids. The Wildcat girls team has a good chance to win a few events led by speedster Abbe Stackpole.

Here’s a preview of what I’m looking to happen. Stackpole will win the gold or silver in two events, and help the Wildcat girls will win gold or silver in a couple relays.

The Silver Knights Spencer Corley will bring home gold in the high jump and the Knights Nathan Barker and Zack Placer will be in the running for the gold and silver in the 100 meter hurdles. The Knights will also bring home gold or silver in the shuttle hurdles barring any miscues.

Magnolia and Tyler Consolidated played one of the best baseball games I’ve witnessed all season on Wednesday, April 24, at TCHS. The Knights led 9-4 going into the seventh but Magnolia scored six runs in the top of the inning to take a 10-9 lead, compliments of a Silas McKeever grand slam with two outs. The Silver Knights got a two run double from Tyler West in the bottom of the inning and then a bad throw from third to first brought West home to tie the game and send it to extra innings. The Silver Knights went on to win the game 11-10. This was another one of those messed up strike zone games. On the coaches side I heard both teams saying, “Just play ball, forget about it.”

The top five sports performances for the week. 1. Gage Huffman’s throw from deep in center field to cut down a Magnolia player at the plate to stop a go ahead run. (the best throw I’ve seen in years).2. Nathan Barker’s 15.70 100 meter high hurdle run at the WTTL meet on Tuesday, April 23. 3. JoLee Walton’s home run to lead the Silver Knights to a win. 4. Abbe Stackpole winning the 100 and 200 meter dashes at the WTTL on April 23. 5. The Silver Knights boys shuttle team winning the event at the WTTL on April 23. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com