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MCCHESNEY: It'll be a two-RBI single.
Mallory will remember the same words. At least two others will say they saw Knox conferring with McChesney. But McChesney will say he never spoke to Knox.
The other umpire, Bill Wagner, who makes his living as a blackjack dealer, never had the talent to play sports at a high level, but he loves facilitating the game. Rules are his obsession. A few times a week, when he's eating lunch alone, he opens the NCAA softball rule book at random and studies one of its 271 pages.
In eight years as an umpire, Wagner had never seen a player injured on a home run trot. Now, standing a few feet from Sara's prostrate form, he scans his internal database. There's got to be a rule for this, he tells himself. Later he will look it up and realize there are two rules for this, and he could have applied either one. Contrary to what Knox was led to believe, neither would result in a two-run single.
Rule 22.214.171.124: If an injury to a batter-runner or runner prevents her from proceeding to an awarded base, the ball is dead and substitution may be made. The substitute must legally touch all awarded or missed bases not previously touched. This would give Western Oregon all three runs, but Sara's only career home run would be wiped from the record books because she did not personally cross the plate.
The other rule, 126.96.36.199, was designed for extraordinary circumstances, such as when a fielder or runner is badly hurt and the ball is still in play: When necessary to protect an injured player, the umpire may suspend play immediately and before resumption, award a base or bases that offensive players would have reached, in the umpire's judgment, had play not been suspended. This would be an easy call. Sara would have made it all the way home. She would get her four bases and be credited with a home run.
There is no telling how long she lies there. To Sara, it seems like at least four minutes. To Wagner, it seems like only 90 seconds. The answer is on the tip of his brain. Subsequent evidence will show that, at least for a moment, he too believes the mistaken two-run-single theory. The confusion drags on. Finally, Mallory has had enough.
"Excuse me," she says.
And would you please thank their parents for raising such compassionate young ladies? I know that we as parents often wonder if we have made any difference in the world. These parents need to know that they have.