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KENLY — North Johnston High’s fight to get the result overturned of its game from Friday night against South Granville in the fourth round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A softball playoffs ended Sunday night with no change — the Lady Panthers’ 6-5 loss in Creedmoor will stand.
North Johnston senior Lindsey Massengill’s two-run home run to center field in the top of the fifth inning resulted in the umpire calling her out for being touched by her teammates before she stepped on home plate. The call, which came away after South Granville head coach Jackie Day complained to the umpire, took the run away and ended the inning.
“My understanding of the rule is it’s a judgment rule by the umpire and we can’t protest judgment calls,” North Johnston head coach Chris Batten said. “The state took their time, and we were pleased with the state that they took the time and did their due diligence of looking at everything involved and making a decision that they thought was the right decision. The state looked at everything and made the decision that nothing was going to change.”
Batten knew the chance of anything being overturned was not high but felt it was important to try. The NCHSAA rule book states that “the competing teams will determine a five-person protest committee prior to play. The committee will act on any protest at the time it may occur and its decision is final.”
Batten said he didn’t believe he could protest because it’s a judgment call, but said he has no regrets about not protesting.
“I tell my players all the time, ‘You can’t change what has happened and you can’t change what’s going to happen, all you can do is focus on what you can do to make something happen,’” Batten said. “I can’t look back and say yes this would’ve changed or it would not, because it didn’t go that way. I can’t speculate and have an answer to if anything would have been different — I don’t know.”
Video of the moment drew widespread reaction on Twitter. All the evidence was given to the association on Saturday and the NCHSAA made a decision Sunday evening. Batten then called a meeting with players, parents and supporters of the program to break the news to them. Batten said the team was upset and disappointed, but he did that to make sure they were all heard and had their questions answered. Batten was also happy with the support he and the team got from the community and across the state.
“When I got up on Saturday morning and was preparing to hit the road and go out of town for the day, I just kept walking to my wife and showing her the continuing outpour on social media,” Batten said. “I told the girls that they needed to kind of understand how much that meant and that they got to take it as their program is respected and that these kids are respected because people really stood behind them.”