MORRISON – In the end, not a whole lot was settled in the third, and most important, softball game between Erie-Prophetstown and Morrison on Tuesday night.
In a Class 2A Morrison Regional semifinal, the Fillies led the Panthers 5-4 entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Erie-Prophetstown, as the higher seed, was slated to come to bat when the game was abruptly halted because of lightning being spotted to the north.
That was at 8:40 p.m,, so the earliest the game could resume was 9:10 p.m., after a mandatory half-hour wait for the lightning to clear the area. Only it never did.
Rumors were flying rampant about what would be done, and most of them did not favor Erie-Prophetstown. The initial thought was to have the game revert back to the score for the last completed inning. That would have left the final score 5-4 in Morrison's favor.
With umpires scouring rule books for some sort of resolution, finally there was a breakthrough. After multiple phone calls were made to the IHSA office, an umpire got through to Pat Creek, the head softball clinician for the IHSA.
Creek determined as it was a playoff game and neither team was slated to play again until Saturday, the teams would resume play today (Wednesday) at 4 p.m. Had it been a regular-season game, Morrison would have won the game 5-4.
Morrison Athletic Director Gus Linke is going to contact the IHSA in the morning, to confirm the ruling.
The decision was met with mixed reviews.
"It wouldn't be the best way to win," Morrison starting pitcher Brooke Stralow said, "but to come back and play, that would be OK too. I suppose it's best to play a full game."
"I'm definitely happy we get to come back," E-P first baseman Savannah Mettler said. "I think it's only fair because we're only halfway through an inning, and we are the home team. It's only right that we at least get the chance to come back."
Mettler was a central figure in the game's signature play. Emily Cox's RBI single brought the Panthers to within 5-4 with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Mettler was on third base, and Cox was on second.
The next batter, Kylie Ackerman, hit a comebacker to pitcher Lauren Rice, who threw to Stralow at first for an out. Mettler broke for home, and her slide appeared to beat the relay throw of Stralow, but Morrison catcher Chelsea Eads had the plate blocked, preventing the tying run from scoring. It was an inning-ending double play.
Erie-Prophetstown coach Bob Phelps argued that Eads blocked the plate without the ball, which is against the rules. In a sign of the times, an Erie-Prophetstown fan used a cellphone to record the play, and had the play online within minutes.
"I felt like I was safe on the play, with maybe a little obstruction by the catcher," Mettler said. "I believe the umpire was looking at my foot instead of the plate, and my foot wasn't on because she was blocking me, but I believe I was safe. We have video that says I'm safe."
Cox had a pair of RBI singles to pace the Erie-Prophetstown offense, while Ackerman delivered a key 2-run single to highlight a 3-run third inning.
The hitting star for Morrison was Eads. She had an RBI single in the first inning, and her 2-run single in the fifth gave the Fillies a 5-3 at the time.
Pending unforeseen developments, the game will resume at 4 p.m. today, with Erie-Prophetstown's Clare Kramer coming to the plate to start the bottom of the sixth. Rice, who entered the game in the bottom of the fourth in relief of Stralow, is the Morrison pitcher.
The winner between Erie-Prophetstown and Morrison will take on Alleman, a 12-1 winner against West Carroll, for a regional title on Saturday.