Scheduling conflict forces Warriors softball to forfeit bid for undefeated season

Snow Canyon softball's Kambrie Stuart prepares to hit against Dixie, Dixie High School, St. George, Utah, May 4, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Not a lot has gone wrong for head coach Tracee Heaton or Snow Canyon softball this season. However, one small scheduling snafu will cost the team its bid for an undefeated Region 9 season with a forfeit on Thursday night.

Snow Canyon softball head coach Tracee Heaton during the team’s win over Dixie, Dixie High School, St. George, Utah, May 4, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

The Warriors were slated to take on Dixie in the season finale, entering with a 13-0 record. They had a chance to finish the season with no losses to a Region 9 opponent. Instead, a deep dive into the Utah High School Activities Association handbook will cost Snow Canyon the chance. The game Thursday night would have counted as their 23rd contest of the season, one higher than permitted by the governing body in a single season.

“It was an honest mistake on my part and I wish they would’ve just suspended me and not the team,” Snow Canyon head coach Tracee Heaton told St. George News via text. “I apologize to Dixie and feel bad they don’t get to play tonight.”

The specifics are obscure. Snow Canyon entered Thursday with an overall record of 23-4, totaling 27 games. The UHSAA handbook permits no more than 22 but allows exceptions for tournament contests. For a one-day tournament, up to four games can be added to the contest-limit count for the price of one. For a two-day tournament, up to eight games can be written as two.

This is where the problem came in for Snow Canyon, turning a 10-0 blowout over Payson on March 19 into an eventual forfeit loss to Dixie on the final day of the season. That victory was the only game the Warriors played that day and they played three more the next. Had all four games been played on the same day, it would have counted as just one contest against the limit. Instead, it counted as two.

Snow Canyon softball’s Tyler Mooring (28) crosses home after hitting a home run against Desert Hills, Snow Canyon High School, St. George, Utah, April 6, 2021 | File photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

Heaton said she self-reported the discrepancy once she discovered it the week of April 12. It was confirmed that the final game of the season would put the Warriors at 23 games against the limit, one over.

A regretful Heaton did not want the discrepancy to loom over a team with the highest possible expectations entering the state playoffs. She wished that action could be taken against just her and not her team.

“I just didn’t want there to be any questions during the state tournament or anything that would hinder our chances,” Heaton said. “This mistake was totally my fault, these girls had nothing to do with it.”

It effectively ends the Warriors’ bid to give Region 9 its second consecutive undefeated champion after Cedar went 12-0 in 2019 (the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season in 2020). Also coming to an end will be an 18-game win streak for Snow Canyon, stretching back to the third game of that same tournament that would cost them the forfeit. Their last played loss was to Spanish Fork on March 20 by a score of 4-2.

Snow Canyon softball’s infield gathers in the circle before first pitch against Canyon View, Snow Canyon High School, St. George, Utah, April 16, 2021 | File photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

The team also will not get to play their final regular-season home game with a roster loaded with seniors. However, Snow Canyon is very likely to host their first-round series of the playoffs on Tuesday.

The Warriors will finish 13-1, having already clinched the Region 9 title last week. Entering Thursday’s games, they are second in regional play with 171 runs scored and their 27 runs allowed will be at least 34 better than second place by the night’s end.

“It sucks, but we took care of business when we needed to and still won region,” Heaton said.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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