Mike White’s ‘Gamesmanship’ Erases Three Kentucky Runs of the Board, Game Ends in Tie
The first weekend of college softball has come and gone, and the Big 12 played in several high-profile games against some of the top opponents in the nation.
As we mentioned in our weekend preview, Mike White and the Texas Longhorns had the toughest start to their season of anyone in the Big 12, as they were set to face four Top 25 teams in the opening weekend: No. 23 Missouri, No. 8 Northwestern, No. 12 Tennessee, and No. 17 Kentucky.
Texas split their first two games on Friday, defeating Missouri 11-1 and dropping their game against Northwestern 10-9. The game against Tennessee was canceled due to inclement weather. On Sunday, Texas got things started with a 7-0 win over Illinois, and things got particularly odd in their last game of the weekend against Kentucky.
Texas and Kentucky were scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. CT first pitch, and a drop-dead time of 2:30 p.m. CT, do to a scheduled flight for the Wildcats.
If you are unfamiliar, a drop-dead time is an agreement that is set between the coaches and umpires at home plate before the start of the game. Essentially, drop-dead times are in place so that teams are able to keep their scheduled travel plans, which was the case this weekend. If the game runs until the set drop-dead time, the game is called at that moment, with the final score being the score at the end of the previous completed inning.
Texas held a 4-0 lead until Kentucky finally got on the board in the fifth inning with one run. In the sixth, Kentucky scored three more runs to make the score 4-4 entering the seventh. The tie held for the final inning of regulation, sending the game into extra innings. In the top of the eighth, Kentucky took their first lead of the game with a two-run single from Taylor Ebbs and then added another run to make the score 7-4.
After giving up three runs, Texas head coach Mike White made a visit to the circle, a visit that lasted exactly one minute. After his meeting, White walked back to the dugout, only to emerge once again within seconds to make a pitching change.
Sophia Simpson, who replaced Mac Morgan, took approximately three minutes to get warmed up and get the game resumed. After Simpson reached a 2-1 count, White attempted to make another visit to the circle, but was denied the opportunity by the first base umpire. Instead, the Longhorns held an infield meeting for just about a minute. The time then, was 2:19 p.m. CT.
Following the infield meeting, a Kentucky player, who was at third base, left the base early and was called out for the third out of the inning.
The bottom of the eighth inning started at approximately 2:22 p.m. CT and the international tie-breaker rule was in effect. That means, at the beginning of extra innings, each team will start with a runner at second base. The runner is designated as the player who recorded the final out of the previous inning.
After Texas’ first batter of the bottom of the eighth flew out to center, Mia Scott stepped into the batter’s box at 2:24 p.m. CT. After taking ball one, Scott spoke with the umpire behind the plate. Then, after she stepped out of the box, Scott appeared to put some eye drops in her eyes. Scott proceeded to reach first base after a four-pitch walk and then Alyssa Washington stepped into the box, after taking her time in doing so.
After a foul ball on a 1-2 count, the gamesmanship continued.
Mike White felt it necessary at that point in time to bring in a pinch runner at second. Remember, this is the base runner that started the inning on second due to international tie-breaker rules. Washington struck out looking on the next pitch.
Katie Cimusz stepped into the batter’s box at 3:29 p.m. with two runners on and two outs. Cimusz quickly found herself in an 0-2 count and the Longhorns were down to their last strike.
So, naturally, Mike White decided that it was time to make a change and bring in a pinch-runner at first base. Then, at a moment’s notice, the clock reached 2:30 p.m. CT and the game was called. The final score? 4-4. A tie.
Mike White has never been known to care what others think of him, and is quite outspoken about his feelings, as we saw last year at the Big 12 Tournament. Well, in 2023, it appears that White still isn’t afraid to walk the line of controversy, and by manipulating the rules, his team leaves the first weekend of college softball with a 2-1-1 record, instead of the 2-2 record that they earned.