Bellevue-Mercer Island softball team booted from tourney two wins from title

Rain delays and scheduling conflicts resulted in a pair of District 9 softball teams, including the Bellevue West, Thunderbird, Mercer Island squad, being disqualified from a tournament after neither could field a team of nine for the title game.

The tournament, which was delayed two days for rain, included five teams playing for one spot at state. After winning each of its first three games, Eastlake-Sammamish was the only remaining unbeaten and was slated to face a team comprised of Bellevue Thunderbird, Bellevue West and Mercer Island Little Leaguers in the finals.

But several players from each team were also committed to the National Softball Association state tournament, which began the same day.District 9, which made an effort before the tournament to ensure players would be able to participate with both organizations (NSA is a separate softball entity from Little League International), would not reschedule the championship game and instead ruled that both squads were disqualified.

"We couldn't find a single example of a team being disqualified because they could not field nine players," Eastlake-Sammamish coach Andy Holderness said. "Even if it was a double-forfeit, we still would have won the tournament because they (Bellevue-Mercer Island) would have been eliminated."

District 9 officials declined comment and Little League International Vice President of Communications Lance VanAuken said there is no specific rule outlining the process when neither team can play a scheduled tournament game.

He also said the idea of a double-forfeit was not practical because, "There wouldn't have been any punishment."

Sno-Valley North/Falls/Snoqualmie, which went 1-2 in three games, was ruled tournament champion, though a lawsuit threatens to challenge that ruling.

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