Laurel softball team stunned by Little League ruling

LAUREL – Just 12 hours before they were scheduled to hit the road, the Laurel Major League softball all-stars received word that they had been disqualified from the East Regional tournament.

Little League handed down the penalty because the organization deemed a player did not live within its boundary map for Laurel Little League.

Laurel won the state title in Major League softball by winning three games in a row.

The player in question has a Laurel address and has been a member of Laurel Little League since she was four years old. She competed on the Minor League all-star team that participated in the East Regional last season.

“We were set to leave at about 5 in the morning, but around 5 or 5:30 Thursday night is when the call came in that we were banned as a team,” explained Laurel manager James Shockley.

State runner-up Camden-Wyoming was offered a chance to go in Laurel’s place, however the team declined due to the short notice.

Little League released an official statement regarding the decision, stating:

“The Little League International Tournament Committee reviewed information pertaining to the eligibility of the Laurel Little League Major Division (10-12) Softball team. Upon review of the information supplied by the league, the Tournament Committee determined that a player on the league’s Major Division Softball team did not meet the eligibility requirements to participate in Laurel Little League as outlined in Little League Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Operating Policies, in which this player does not reside in, nor attend school, within Laurel Little League’s approved boundaries.

“Based on this determination, the Tournament Committee has deemed Laurel Little League’s 10-12 Softball Tournament Team ineligible to participate in the International Tournament. As a result of this determination, the Tournament Committee has made the decision to advance Canal Little League from the Delaware State Tournament to the Little League Softball East Regional Tournament. The decision of the Little League International Tournament Committee is final and binding.”

With the tourney slated to begin Saturday in Bristol, Conn., the team was expected to leave Delaware early Friday morning. Laurel’s first game of the tourney was originally slated for Sunday.

Little League’s decision was made final at about 5 p.m. Thursday.

The Laurel all-stars went undefeated in the District 3 tournament before battling out of the loser’s bracket to grab the Major League state championship banner.

Laurel earned three consecutive wins, included a pair of title wins over Camden-Wyoming on back to back days, to grab the state title and punch its ticket to the East Regional earlier this month.

Laurel beat Camden-Wyoming, 6-2, on July 12 and followed it up with a 2-1 victory on July 13 to complete the state tourney triumph.

“The kids are broken. We fought hard, anybody that followed this team in the tournament, they know we gave it everything we had. So, they were disappointed,” explained Shockley.

“I don’t even really know the words to say to make them feel better. This is something that they’re going to carry with them for a while. This one’s going to hurt.”

The players had been fundraising this week in preparation for the trip.

“We’re going to rally around them. We’ll fight for them forever. We’ll move on and just be stronger than we were before,” said Laurel Little League president Mike Snead. “As everyone always says, everything happens for a reason. We just hope we can move forward from this and come back and be stronger than we were before.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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