MARION — It was bad enough for the Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois that they blew a 4-0 seventh inning lead and lost 8-4 to the Chicago Bandits on Saturday in the first game of an NPF double header.
It got worse when the Wild had to get the third out of the seventh inning twice after an accidental omission forced coach Mark Smith to pull reliever Morgan Rackel from the game and re-insert starter Sara Plourde.
Rackel entered as the third pitcher of the seventh after Chicago had scored five runs off Plourde and reliever Kenzie Friesen to erase its game-long deficit. She faced four batters, hitting the first, then allowing a two-run double to Jessie Scroggins and a sacrifice fly to Hannah Flippen before getting a popup from Brenna Moss.
But as Haylie Wagner warmed up to pitch the bottom of the seventh, Bandits coach Lauren Lappin pointed out an issue with the Wild’s lineup card.
Rackel wasn’t on it, a violation of the league’s rule. Plainly stated in the fine print between the lineup and the roster is a two-sentence codicil: “The line-up sheet can include up to 23 rostered players. Players listed on the line-up card prior to the respective game are considered active and are the only players allowed to play during the game.”
“When we had the cards made, Morgan hadn’t yet made the team,” Wild coach Mark Smith said. “So we write her name in one of the blank spots. We had a player injured during the warmups so I had to rewrite the lineup card and I neglected to put her name on it.
“I should have written her name down. That one’s on me.”
Smith said international rules differ from the NPF’s in that circumstance. After the leadoff batter hits, a coach isn’t permitted to protest the roster’s composition as it pertains to the lineup card. NPF rules enable a coach to use an incorrect roster to their advantage.
When Lappin protested Rackel’s usage, the umpires made the Wild come back on the field, minus Rackel. Scroggins, who reached third on Flippen’s sacrifice fly, went back to third and Moss got to hit again with an 0-1 count.
The 10-minute delay resulted in Moss making the third out for the second time, lining out on the first pitch she saw from Plourde.
“Right when he entered 99, I knew she wasn’t on my lineup card,” Lappin said of Rackel. “So I thought, ‘OK, we’ll hold this in our pocket and see what happens.’ If we needed to utilize it, we could. That run could have meant something.”
Lappin, a former star at Stanford who currently serves as an assistant coach at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, won a silver medal with the U.S. during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. During her five-year playing career in NPF, she remembered her coach with the USSSA Pride, current LSU coach Beth Traina, winning rules discussions that helped the team win a couple of games.
If nothing else, the brief delay illustrated a gentle difference in opinion between the coaches. Smith said the same situation happened last week when the Wild played in Cleveland. The Comets’ coaches forgot to write a pitcher on their lineup card and brought it up with him.
“I said, ‘No big deal. Write it down and we’re good.’ That’s sort of the protocol you would expect,” he said. “You have a young, inexperienced coach over there, trying to win as many games as she can. She didn’t break any rules. It’s just an unwritten rule … that you would overlook something like that and keep on going.”