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Bailey Hemphill Hit a Home Run, or Did She?

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Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy argues with the umpire after Bailey Hemphill was called out on a controversial call against Ole Miss. Photo: SEC Network

There’s a bit of a contretemps in the sporting world over an event at a softball game between Alabama and Mississippi. A player for Alabama, Bailey Hemphill, hit a home run to apparently tie the game but then failed to step on home plate. Mississippi catcher Courtney Syrett along with the umpire noticed the mistake. The alert catcher called for the ball once it was put back in play and tagged Hemphill. As they say in baseball, “Yer Out!”

I wasn’t going to write anything about this until I saw some talking heads lamenting how the umpire ruined the game and the unfairness of it all. That Hemphill hit the home run and touching the plate was a formality. Bah humbug, says this fan. I wonder what the sportscasters would say if she missed first base? The point is she has to touch the bases. That’s the rule and it’s a good rule.

Frankly, I’m opposed to all the teammates crowding around the plate after a player hits a home run anyway. I’m against it even for a game winning home run and I’m really, wholeheartedly against it when it is still the middle of the game, as it was in this case.

The rules are clear. You have to touch all three bases and home plate. Hemphill did not, she’s out. It doesn’t even seem like it should be a controversy to me. Anyone who has ever played baseball knows this rule. It’s one of the first things they taught me when I played Little League ball as a lad. Another one is that you have to touch first base after a single even if the winning run scores on a base hit. If you immediately run off and congratulate the runner, the other team can throw to first base and you are out.

The same rule applies with sacrifice flies. If you leave too early, the other team notices it, and throws over to the base once the ball is back in play, O-U-T.

What strikes me most about this situation is what I perceive to be sexism. If this was Major League Baseball I find it difficult to believe anyone would be arguing that it should be a home run. I think the perception is college softball is just a fun game and the umpires should give the girl a break. I’m here to tell you, I know some top-level softball players, they are not kidding around. They are outstanding athletes and compete as hard as anyone. They know the rules and are as subject to them as anyone else.

It’s not the end of the world for anyone involved but I’m completely on the side of the umpire in this case. Good call. Keep up the excellent work.

As far as Hemphill and Alabama are concerned, lesson learned. They’ll play again another day.

By Tom Liberman

Tom Liberman is a regular fellow from St. Louis, Mo., who enjoys spending time with his wonderful family and great friends. He writes Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels in his spare time. 

4 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry Tom but you’re wrong and so was the umpire. A player is not out unless they enter the dugout without touching all bases. You can’t be tagged out by a player who just received a ball from the ump. It’s not the ball that went over the fence right? I cant believe no one caught this. Once she enters the dugout without touching a vase, then she would be out but she never did. There is no play in baseball where you can use two different balls in 1 play. Sorry, they blew it! Big-time

  2. Hi, Glen.

    Thank you for the comment.

    Interesting idea and I’d have to do some research but my instinct is that it is not a home run. That it won’t be entered in the books as a home run but as a triple. That would be the official determination to my way of thinking, but I could be wrong.

    I think we both agree the run shouldn’t count and there should be no controversy. Have a great day.

    Tom

  3. Actually she did hit a home run. IF the ball went over the limit, she hit a home run. But if she didn’t touch home plate, she didn’t score.

  4. In most ball or object sorts, points are awarded based on the path of the object. if the puck or football has to cross the goal line within the given boundaries points are given. The path or position of the player doesn’t matter. If the basketball only partly goes thru the rim and comes back out (without being touched), no points are awarded. Simple.
    The uniqueness of baseball and softball is that is the path of the player that earns points – not the path of the ball. The path of the ball can only determines what the player is allowed to do. When the ball is hit up the middle into the outfield, the player can advance to any base as long as s/he gets to that base before the ball does. The player on first can go to third if s/he can get there before the ball. A bases empty ground rule double goes over the wall too but no points are earned for putting the ball over the wall. When the player hits a “home run” it only “allows” the player to come home. The point is awarded by the player touching the plate. I see no controversy.

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