After clinching at least a tie for the Empire 8 regular season title with a sweep over Elmira College on Saturday, the softball team’s fate as the potential No. 1 seed in the conference tournament lay in the hands of St. John Fisher College.
The Bombers have been tied with Alfred University in the conference since the two teams split a doubleheader April 10. But with Alfred’s matchup against Fisher on Sunday, all the Blue and Gold needed was one win from Fisher to be crowned the lone champions of the Empire 8 regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the Empire 8 Championship tournament.
But Fisher was unable to come through for its conference rival, leaving the No. 1 seed in a deadlock with nothing to decide the winner but a coin toss.
And with that, the Bombers dropped to the No. 2 seed as Alfred won the toss.
“When you’re going head-to-head, a coin toss just doesn’t seem right,” junior Allison Greaney said. “Especially when it’s down between two teams, so I think the least they can do is look at run differential.”
Had the Empire 8 chosen to look at runs for and runs against like the conference does in other sports — such as soccer, where the tiebreaker includes least goals against and most goals for in head-to-head competition — the Bombers would have clearly come out on top as they outscored Alfred 10–5 in their doubleheader.
Chuck Mitrano, commissioner of the Empire 8, said that the coaches in the conference recommend tiebreakers and they look at them on a yearly basis to see if they want to make modifications.
“It’s never come to this,” he said. “We certainly hope that in the future that modification will come forward so that a coin flip would not decide who would be the top seed, or any particular seed for that matter. We certainly prefer it be determined on the field, but, unfortunately, this is the way it played out this year.”
Junior Kait Dolan said the team is upset about the outcome but that the players are not going to let it affect how they perform on the field.
“At this point, there’s nothing else we can do but joke about it,” she said. “That’s the only way we’re going to be OK with it is if we laugh it off and just say, ‘You know what? It’s a coin toss.’”
The decision leads the South Hill squad to travel to Alfred instead of hosting the tournament and puts them up against No. 3 seeded Fisher instead of No. 4 Rochester Institute of Technology.
With some recent history against the Cardinals, the Bombers are pumped for another rematch. The Blue and Gold swept Fisher during the regular season this year after losing to the Cardinals in the Empire 8 tournament final last year.
“Fisher is a very different team than they’ve been the past three years,” Dolan said. “They lost a lot of key players and when we played them this year, the second we started hitting the ball against them, they just fell apart. We’re not that team to deflate if another team scores first. We try to be that team that comes back even though we’re scored against, and they didn’t have that attitude at all.”
While the Bombers are disappointed that they will not be playing with the comfort of home field advantage, Dolan said a softball field is a softball field.
“No matter where it is, it’s still 60 feet to first base, and it’s a bunch of left turns,” she said. “That’s all it is.”