You make the call


(Camera:Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. exposure: 1/1000th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 160)

At the top of the third inning in a varsity softball game between Tokay and St. Mary’s High schools at Arnaiz Field in Stockton, there were two outs and the bases were loaded. At bat was Tokay’s Becka Schnieder who made contact off a pitch by St. Mary’s Taylor Davis. The ground ball stayed in the infield and Schnieder ran hard, attempting to beat the throw to first. St. Mary’s first baseman Brittany Ward, glove at the ready, waited for the ball to reach her. It was going to be close. To me, it seemed that the ball and Schnieder reached first base simultaneously. Ward, convinced that it was the last out of the inning, started trotting off the field. But the base umpire, positioned near third base, called Schnieder safe. There was a brief protest from the St. Mary’s coach and then play continued.


(Camera:Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. exposure: 1/1000th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 160)

I did a quick review to make sure I got the shot, which I did, and went on to shoot more of the game.

A little while later I
re-examined the picture more  closely and saw that the umpire had gotten
it wrong. I could see the ball in Ward’s glove, but Schnieder’s foot was about and inch or so from the bag.
Ward’s foot didn’t lose contact with first base nor did she bobble the
ball. Schnieder was out.

After nearly 24-years of covering softball games, this is the first time I got a shot that clearly contradicts the umpires. All of the other close calls I’ve shot have either confirmed the umps decisions or have been too tight to figure out. In the end I decided not to tell anyone. It’s my role to record the events, not to be an instant replay for the game. I have great respect for the officials at all sporting events. They literally have to make split-second decisions under stressful conditions. This situation is evidence that they’re not perfect, but I it’s been my experience that they get it right most of the time.

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