PDT Sports Writer
When area coaches converge Sunday at Jackson High School to determine this year’s softball draw, one school will be without representation
The Daily Times learned Friday through an OHSAA spokesperson that the Minford Falcon softball team has been banned from this year’s tournament after violating OHSAA rules. The ruling was confirmed by Minford athletic director Jeff Pica. The Minford softball team will also be without its head coach, Preston Messer, for the remainder of this season as well as the start of next year.
“We expected the postseason ban,” Pica said. “We were a little surprised (about) the suspension for the coach.”
According to an e-mail sent Friday by the OHSAA spokesperson, the organization determined it was going to follow through with its punishment after the Falcons participated in an out-of-state event prior to the start of the regular season. The OHSAA determined the trip to Myrtle Beach, S. C. — which the school categorized as scrimmages prior to opening day in the state of Ohio — to be counted as games and therefore, a direct violation of OHSAA rules and regulations.
In accordance with the Out-Of-State bylaw, schools in Ohio can only conduct practices within the state, a bordering state or the Canadian province of Ontario. Any event outside of those boundaries — whether it is a practice or scrimmage — must count as a regular season game and cannot come before Opening Day, which was March 30.
“The OHSAA handed down the ruling and we’re going to go with that,” Pica said.
Messer will serve a seven-game suspension as a result of the violation, which will start Monday against Oak Hill. Minford, which currently stands at 14-5 overall and 9-2 in the SOC II and with one senior on the roster, will be led on an interim basis by first-year assistant Jason Allen. The Falcons were to host South Webster Friday but the contest was postponed at the Jeeps’ request.
“We have every confidence in our coaching staff that they’ll carry on the next three games and we’re three games away from a potential SOC (II) championship,” Pica said.
Northwest athletic director and Southern Ohio Conference Secretary/Treasurer Dave Frantz told The Daily Times that no additional punishment will come from conference unless the OHSAA had decided to force the school to forfeit its games. Pica said no forfeits will occur.
The school will also be able to host the May 21, 23 and 25 Division IV Southeast District Softball Tournament as Jeff Berry is the tournament manager. The school only makes money during the tournament off concession stand sales.
Messer will be reviewed by the school at the end of the season, which is standard procedure for every coach in the school. Pica understood the intentions Messer had as he wanted to improve and reward those in his program, not circumvent the rules.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” Pica said.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.