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Monday, May 6, 2019: Stiles pitches Deposit to Morabito softball championship

   Leading off today: Tournament MVP Makenzie Stiles struck out 14 batters in Deposit's 1-0 victory Sunday over Iroquois in the championship game of the 39th annual James "Ace" Morabito Memorial Softball Tournament.

   Deposit had advanced to the final of the 16-team tournament earlier in the day with a 4-0 win over Hamburg as Stiles allowed just one hit and struck out 14. Ashton Staton tripled and drove in a pair of runs.

   Iroquois had advanced to the championship game in Herkimer with a 5-4 victory over Kingston, which returned later in the day to beat Hamburg 14-2 in the third-place game.

   More softball: If you haven't noticed, softball is a pitching-driven sport. In fact, there's not another New York high school team sport more dominated by a single position player.

   With that in mind, The Press & Sun-Bulletin ran a story over the weekend examining the effect of a rules change that saw the pitcher's circle moved back from 40 feet from the plate to 43 feet.

   The most obvious effect has been an increase in scoring, though it's not as though offenses are putting up video-game numbers. Still, some of the 1-0 and 2-1 scores have been replaced by games ending with scores of 4-3 or 5-4. Station-to-station softball is less prevalent and stronger defensive work has become a necessity with more balls being put in play.

   "It's still a pitchers' game, but the hitters have a chance anyway," Maine-Endwell coach Joe Mancinelli said. "Back in those days, you hoped to get a leadoff runner on, you hoped she had some speed (to steal second), and you'd bunt her to third and you'd figure out how to get her home with your outs."

   As noted in the story, the tradeoff is that the extra three feet gives pitchers more room to put spin and movement on the ball.

   You can read the full story here.

   Wrestling commentary: Sal Interdonato at The Times Herald-Record followed up on last week's report that the 99-pound weight class could be eliminated in New York after an 8-3 vote by the members of the NYSPHSAA wrestling committee.

   Some of the argument in support of eliminating the class is that there were frequent forfeits and that a number of schools that did enter competitors in that slot were mostly utilizing seventh- and eighth-graders. Perhaps being underestimated is the value of the experience that those younger competitors acquire on the way to becoming multi-time state-meet participants at higher weights down the road.

   "What does a coach say to a prospective wrestler who naturally weighs between 95 and 100 pounds?" Interdonato writes. "Wait until next year? Grow some more? Sorry, but no? Wrestling is the one sport that sets itself apart by allowing athletes of similar size to compete against one another."

   You can read the whole column here.


   More interesting reading: There was a good bit of work from last week with an analysis showing inconsistent reporting of concussion data despite legislation nearly a decade ago aimed at improving awareness and proper treatment.

   The paper's examination of records showed the number of reported concussions from 2014 through 2018 varied widely -- if officials reported them at all. Manchester Regional (with an 2017-18 enrollment 866) reported three concussions for the period as the same time that Montclair (enrollment of 2,103) logged 196 such incidents.

   Officials at dozens of high schools did not provide concussion data in response to the newspaper's request. Most said they did not keep school-wide records of student concussions or would not provide redacted versions of the medical forms.

   On the national front: The Tennessee Second- ary School Athletic Association has banned Memphis' Mitchell High from baseball playoffs for two years after determining that the team "knowingly played an ineligible player" in a district tournament game in order to avoid having to forfeit.

   In addition to the ban, the school was fined $2,000.

    • The Indiana High School Athletic Assoc- iation will hold annual meetings this week and one of the key topics will be the possible approval of a mercy rule in football. The proposal calls for a running clock in the second half of games with a margin of 35 or more points.

   The change may be made in conjunction with a proposal allowing JV players to appear in two quarters of the varsity game without losing their ability to participate in that week's junior varsity game.

   Interestingly, the IHSAA will also consider a proposal that would see a fan who is ejected from a contest also be barred from the next home contest. The premise is the penalty for fans should be the same as for players and coaches.

    • A leading contender for a Southern California team championship in track and field suffered a huge blow when two of its top girls were suspended over a violation that seemingly broke the letter of the law but not the spirit.

   According to reports, senior Kyla Robinson-Hubbard and sophomore Bella Witt each participated in five events in the Marmonte League championship meet last month.

   The rule limiting athletes to four events apiece in a single meet is well known by even novice track coaches. And most understand that a competition conducted over two consecutive days counts as a single meet.

   But the Marmonte League meet was held on April 23 and 26, so the athletes were technically in violation of the rules even though they certainly would have had adequate rest along the way.

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