The Kentucky Softball Coaches Association’s new rule regarding junior participation in the East-West All-Star Games turned a few heads this week.
Per a Facebook post by Jim McAlister, head of Kentucky Prep Softball, from henceforth juniors who are nominated by their coaches who then choose not to play in the summer exhibition will not be eligible for nomination in their senior year. McAlister provided some clarity on the rule, which is not actually as draconian as it was initially perceived by some (including this sportswriter).
Juniors who are nominated but then choose not to play will only be excluded from consideration as seniors if they initially tell the KSCA that they are going to play. A decision deadline — Friday — was put in place to help speed up the selection process.
In recent years officials with the games have not been notified of participants’ decisions not to play until the week heading into the event, which typically is staged the weekend after the state tournament. Local travel-ball teams begin play that weekend, too, so often juniors would forgo playing in the all-star series to play with their travel teams.
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It’s fine if players want to play for their travel team, McAlister said, but he wants players to let organizers know in a timely manner so they can extend the opportunity to another deserving individual. Three juniors who’d committed last year ended up not showing up due to travel ball; two didn’t inform organizers until the day games started.
“That post that I made has helped,” said McAlister, who started the East-West All-Star series in 1996. “I’ve had two girls that have called me … that said they’re gonna go to a travel-ball tournament. They said, ‘I hope I can be a part of it next year,’ and of course, yes they can. There’s no problem.
“I don’t care, I coached AAU basketball and I coached travel baseball before. It’s not an issue with them. It’s just an issue with the timing the girls are doing it. … If they wait ’til that last week, they’re being selfish not telling us that they’re not gonna go. Because there’s 40-some other girls who would like to have that shot.”
This year’s games will be held at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg.