Umpires at the Women's College World Series are under fire after some inconsistent calls were made in Oklahoma City.
Notably, Florida State freshman pitcher Makenna Reid was called for four illegal pitches in the third inning of the Seminoles' semifinal win against Tennessee on Monday night. The calls seemingly baffled FSU head coach Lonni Alameda and fans on social media, who've argued that Oklahoma's pitchers are never called for illegal pitches. That left those same fans wondering whether there's an "Oklahoma bias" at the WCWS.
What Happened With Reid's Illegal Pitches?
4 illegal pitches by FSU pitcher pic.twitter.com/BaHsjvAj0J
— 808_SOONER (@MokuBoi_99) June 6, 2023
Specifically regarding Reid, she had only been called for one illegal pitch all season in more than 70 innings of work before Monday's game.
Reid was called for illegal pitches on four separate occasions in the third inning, although she still got out of the inning unscathed. After the calls, Alameda told ESPN's Holly Rowe in an in-game interview that she was proud of Reid for not becoming flustered by the umpiring.
"We've had one illegal pitch all year, so if it's a tactic right now, that's awesome," Alameda said. "But so proud that as a freshman in this environment she can just relax and do her thing. It's pretty awesome poise on her side. I think sometimes maybe she moves her back foot a little bit, but she's been out front before and nothing's ever been called. So it's a consistency factor, but just keep doing what we do."
— Warchant.com (@Warchant) June 6, 2023
Reid was called for illegal pitches because, in the umpire's eyes, her back foot was coming off the ground. It must remain in contact with the ground during her pitching motion. The result of an illegal pitch is much like a balk in baseball: The pitch is ruled a ball.
According to NCAA Rule 10.5.4, "leaping is not allowed. The pitcher may not become airborne on the initial drive from the pitcher's plate. The pivot foot must slide/drag on the ground." In addition, Rule 10.5.5 states that "the pitcher is not allowed to hop or drag to a replant (crowhop), gain a second starting point and push off their pivot foot."
Countless videos on YouTube explain these rules further, but that's not why we're here. We're here because many fans watching the WCWS feel that umpires are harder on other teams than they are on the local Sooners, who are riding the longest winning streak in NCAA Division I history into the WCWS Finals.
Are Umpires More Lenient With Oklahoma at the WCWS?
The problem many fans, players and coaches have with illegal pitch calls are that they're inconsistent.
Former FSU infielder Sydney Sherrill expressed her sarcastic displeasure with that fact in response to former Florida player Amanda Lorenz on Twitter after Reid was called for the illegal pitches.
I love it too Amanda!!!!!! It?s sooooo funny !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! https://t.co/7yefvfyeJM
— Sydney Sherrill (@sydneysherrilll) June 6, 2023
And then there's Oklahoma fireballer Jordy Bahl, who many say should be called for an illegal pitch every time she throws if umpires are going by the rules.
If you?re going to call that on Makenna Reid after not calling it all year and expecting her to make an adjustment in the middle of the WCWS you?d better be consistent. Jordy Bahl has no clean pitches if that?s illegal.
— Bradi Knight Gates (@bokg129) June 6, 2023
I love when ESPN zooms in on Jordy Bahl when she?s pitching and it?s an illegal pitch.
Every. Single. Time.
— allie jo (@ajshankle) June 1, 2023
What bullshit. Calling illegal pitches on an FSU pitcher who hasn?t been called for one ALL YEAR yet Jordy Bahl crow hops every pitch?? If you?re going to call it then call it. BE CONSISTENT @NCAASoftball
— Athena Hawkins (@athena_hawkins) June 6, 2023
it?s only an illegal pitch unless it?s jordy bahl throwing it #wcws
— ice queen (@imdisengaging_) June 6, 2023
Y?ALL!! They?re calling illegal pitches on FSU but they NEVER EVER CALL ONE ON JORDY BAHL who LEAPS on just about EVERY pitch?!?!?! The Oklahoma bias is UNREAL! This is just crazy. Softball umps are just BAD! Enforce the rule ALL the time or get rid of it!! @NCAASoftball
— Farrah (@froseph25) June 6, 2023
And while you may think these are just salty fans, there's a whole mess of videos on Bahl's windup showing her back foot clearly in the air.
can you say illegal! Softball, SoftballLife, SoftballLove, SoftballPlayer, SoftballFamily, FastpitchSoftball, SlowpitchSoftball, SoftballTraining, SoftballFitness, SoftballCulture, SoftballNation, SoftballFans, SoftballMatch, SoftballGame, SoftballChallenge, SoftballPitcher, SoftballCatcher, SoftballInfielder, SoftballOutfielder, SoftballTryout, SoftballSkills, SoftballCommunity, SoftballWorldSeries, SoftballChampionship, SoftballSuperRegionals, SoftballCollege, SoftballUSA.
All 3 outs in the last inning were done on an illegal pitch. This is ruining the sport. Please address this. It?s either it?s a rule or not, it cannot be ignored there?s 4 umpires This is my last tweet. All ?to the legends @bethmowins @jessmendoza @7InningsPodcast @ascarborough pic.twitter.com/ioD5gB5pRK
— OC (@Liviapoo) June 1, 2023
Now, this isn't to say someone like Bahl does that every single pitch. And it isn't to say that umpires are perfect — we know they're not. But when the fans are noticing it — and even FSU's head coach is questioning the calls in a way — maybe it's time to keep these calls more uniform.
One Oklahoma fan on Twitter went so far as to highlight issues with the call across softball, not just those in favor of the Sooners.
Instead of singling out one pitcher and claiming that the umps are ?not calling it on her only? just because you can?t beat her team, be critical of the overall lack of enforcement and the rule itself. pic.twitter.com/WZdJ7Ef6za
— Kansas (@405Kansas) June 4, 2023
Oklahoma is undoubtedly the best team in the country. Whether the Sooners get more calls in their favor in Oklahoma City — you can be the judge.
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