For Mineral Point’s Emily Wood, it was a new life. For Kenosha St. Joseph’s Maddy Chase, it was a nightmare come true.
During a bizarre sequence in Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 state softball title game, Chase was called for six illegal pitches in the third inning alone — one of which nullified what would have been a threat-ending popout by Wood.
Wood didn’t waste her second chance, shooting a two-out, two-run tiebreaking single into right field as the Pointers went ahead for good and coasted to a 7-2 win at Goodman Diamond.
“You could read it on (Chase’s) face,” said Wood, whose team capped its first state appearance in 30 years with its first state championship. “That’s what you don’t want. Because once we knew she was rattled, we had a heyday.”
On Friday, St. Joseph coach Jeff Bonnin was summoned to a meeting with WIAA officials who warned him that cracking down on illegal pitches would be a point of emphasis in Saturday’s title game.
The rule in question states that a pitcher’s hand must be below her hip and her wrist can’t go further from her body than her elbow. Each time an illegal pitch is called, any runners on base automatically advance 90 feet and any strikes called or outs recorded on the play are nullified.
Softball insiders say the rule is in place to prevent pitchers from giving batters a different visual while also preventing the use of advantageous angles of release.
By the end of the fifth inning on Saturday, Chase — who said she had never been called for this variety of an illegal pitch in her career — had been called for 13.
“They said I was throwing sidearm,” Chase said.
In all, six of Mineral Point’s seven runs scored were directly impacted by the calls.
Maddie Kilby, the Lancers’ No. 2 pitcher, wasn’t available for Saturday’s game due to an eye injury, although Bonnin said he likely wouldn’t have pulled Chase anyway.
“We couldn’t see it, or else we would’ve tried to correct it,” Bonnin said. “And she kept doing the same thing (all game). One time, (the umpire) would let it go. Next time, he’d call it. But, you know, that’s the game.
“She’s pitched like that all season. I just hope the umpires do this at the beginning of the year and not in the championship game. That’s what stinks.”
Pointers coach Quinn Schultz sympathized with Chase’s situation but said the controversy did not take away from the moment.
“It’s just one of those things we haven’t dealt with all year,” Schultz said. “So it was new to us and it was new to them. But the girls hit (Chase) hard. Illegal pitches or not, we hit the ball very hard.”
The Lancers (25-1) raced to a 2-0 lead in the first on pair of infield singles and an RBI groundout by Kate Clark.
Mineral Point junior pitcher Beth Wood didn’t take long to settle in, allowing just four hits for the Pointers (23-3) the rest of the way. St. Joseph didn’t advance a runner past first base after the third inning.