WCWS: Gators question officiating after game

By Adam Silverstein
June 7, 2011

Questionable, inconsistent and often bewildering calls were made behind home plate during No. 4 Florida Gators softball’s 6-5 loss to the No. 1 Arizona State Sun Devils on Friday. So when Florida stepped onto the field Monday for the first game of the 2011 Women’s College World Series Championship Series only to find umpire Chris Drumm behind home plate once again, they could only wonder how the officiating might play out.

The Gators got their answer right away when senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice was plunked by a pitch on her right forearm but Drumm refused to send her to first base and call a hit by pitch. Instead, she claimed the knob of DeFelice’s bat hit the ball first and sent her back to the plate even though head coach Tim Walton passionately argued otherwise. DeFelice, with a runner on first and no one out, flied out just a few pitches later.

In the bottom of the first, Drumm’s calls on balls and strikes were equally questionable and likely influenced Arizona State’s ability to score their first run of the game. Her inconsistent strike zone seemed to play a role throughout the remainder of the contest.

At the post-game press conference, DeFelice and senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder spoke candidly about Drumm’s performance behind the plate. Below are some comments made by the players as well as a response from NCAA director of championships Sharon Cessna, as transcribed by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press:

Bruder: “I’m looking forward to playing ASU without her behind the plate. I’m going to try to be as nice as possible, but I hope that whoever appoints her reevaluates her abilities. I’m not making any excuses. ASU absolutely kicked our butts and they deserved to win today, but it was really hard adjusting to the inconsistent calls.”

DeFelice: “[The ball] didn’t hit the bat at all. I don’t know if bone sounds like bat, but it hit me square in the arm. It swelled up like a snowball. I had to have my trainer wrap it up. I mean, it was a rough night with that umpire and it was rough night first time we had her too.”

Cessna: “I don’t think I have to defend [Drumm]. I think she called the game as she saw it. Because it may not have met the expectations or if they felt like they had an issue with her in a previous game and they came in with preconceived notions, that can happen both ways as well. I’m not necessarily going to defend her because I think she called the game as she saw it, and that’s what we ask them to do. She’s one of the six best umpires that we have, because we bring our best here.”

After returning to the hotel, Bruder felt it was necessary to clarify her post-game comments and published the following via her Twitter account: “Just so were all clear about the press conference, I have credit to asu and will again. THEY KICKED OUR BUTTS. they were better tonight. All I’m asking for is a fair strike zone for my pitchers and hitters. Again, this is not an excuse. I just want a fair shot.”

Florida rebounded from Friday’s loss to ASU by claiming victories in three consecutive elimination games. The Gators will face two more in the coming days if they hope to fight back and claim a WCWS title.

Photo Credit: Associated Press


  1. SB says:

    So aggravating. Never thought I’d want to throw the remote through my TV watching softball….

  2. Bog8r says:

    I did not get to watch the game Monday night, but if the Umpire was as bad as Friday the Gators have every right to be upset. I thought at one point Friday night Coach Walton was trying to get thrown out just to prove his point.
    Umpires are not the reason you lose a game but they can mess up your game plan.
    Go Gators bounce back Tuesday night.

  3. Hard Trut says:

    If we replay the game. I would say that enough Gators swung at pitches at eye level or above to negate any “bad calls” or “unfair strike zone.” But that would mean taking responsibility for that and god forbid that happen.

  4. cline says:

    Agree with Hard Trut…. We played bad and were not batting smart point blank. Although obvious that ball did not hit the knob of the bat, you have to still play the game. I think Walton and the players got too wrapped up in that 1 call and it might have rattled them after that. Still have faith they can bounce back but gotta show more control in the box.

  5. Basshole says:

    I did not see the game, but this looks like sour grapes. I hope they get over it and get ready to play

  6. I disagree with you guys for a few reasons. First of all, people should be allowed to vent frustration as long as they do so in a respectable manner. You can argue that this ump cost Florida the Friday game (Rogers should have been out of the seventh inning a few times) and may have contributed (even in a slight way) to their early unraveling. If she gives Rogers one strike in the second, ASU doesn’t have a six-run inning, for example. Additionally, Bruder went out of her way to give all the credit to ASU and not blame the loss on the ump – explicitly stating such. To me, that’s not sour grapes. It’s a player sticking up for her team and wanting a fair shot. Walton obviously agrees.

    • cline says:

      Post game venting is fine…. During the game play the game and get a win… Umpires do not like it when you challenge their calls, that is why they are umpires. Easiest way to get more calls going against your team is to anger an umpire.

      • That’s on Walton then. This post in particular – and the comments – seem to be about the post-game press conference…at least that’s what I thought Trut was getting at.

        • cline says:

          I understand Walton had to stand up for what he thought was the right call, but IMO, when you get in an umps face in the first inning of a game bad calls and breaks will continue to happen for your ball club.

          The portion of Trut’s comment i agree with the most was, “I would say that enough Gators swung at pitches at eye level or above”. We were not having smart at bats all game. ASU is as legit as they come based on what i have seen this year in the series. It is Going to take a real good showing today to compete.

          Go Gators

          • Well when an ump is not consistent with their strikezone and is calling balls strikes, sometimes you have to swing at pitches you normally wouldn’t. Rather get caught swinging than looking.

            I think it was built up anger from a full game of awful calls (Friday) and Walton saw it happening again and wanted to put an end to it. The truth is that she made a terrible call on that HBP and the evidence was there to prove she was wrong and she did nothing about it.

  7. cline says:

    Agree with everything you said, but that’s “baseball” or “softball” in this scenario. Umpires have all the ruling no replay etc… to speak of right now. Umpires are the law on the field regardless of if they make bad calls, and what umpire doesn’t make bad calls? all the way from little league to NCAA to MLB or whatever.

    Umps reversing calls decreases their credibility and opens the door for second guessing every subsequent call, so I didn’t think there would be any chance she would reverse her call.

    We went down looking and swinging a few times when the 3rd pitch was the most decent one tossed of the 3.

    I don’t fault Walton for speaking up it is just a slippery slope that can hurt your club in the long run if you get to hot over 1 call.

    • I disagree that it decreases their credibility. In fact, it increases it if it is done in a situation where – like in this case – an obvious mistake was made. You want the players to take responsibility? The umps should too. I’ve been watching baseball and softball for decades and it is really tough for me to remember a situation where a single ump has been this bad in back-to-back games against the same team. (I’ve seen it in basketball both in the NBA and college.)

      I agree with your point that it can leave a sour taste in their mouth the rest of the game…but…the ump knows what criticism comes with the job. If they can’t take that and get over it and be fair, they don’t deserve to be officiating at this level. Let’s agree to disagree.

  8. GatorJohn says:

    I agree with Adam. When you get inconsistent calls, you have to protect a larger strike zone because you don’t know what will or won’t be called. The HBP was not only missed by the home plate ump, it was missed by the first base ump as well. That cost UF a couple runs in the first, which would have swung the momentum around. The ASU pitcher has a history of being wild early and there is no telling what would have happened if she was rattled. As for whining or sour grapes, anyone who has coached or even played a sport has at one time or another gone off on officiating after the game. Just like errors and bad calls, it’s part of the game.

  9. Tripp says:

    As a coach he had to argue the hbp. Argue bad calls not good ones and in most cases the umpires will understand that they missed a call
    (it happens) but this ump just got her feelings hurt.

  10. SB says:

    It’s not as much about our batters dealing with questionable strike calls, it’s wanting them to go both ways. Bruder and others wouldn’t be upset at a slightly outside pitch being called a strike IF it was being called both ways. Bush was punched out in the 1st on a pitch that was along the batters box line. It was not a strike usually. If the ump wants to call that a strike though, batters have to adjust. The girls know that. Their frustration is because Rogers throws the same pitches and NEVER got the close calls. And when you squeeze a pitcher in softball, if you’ve watched these games for any length of time you know it changes the entire game. Hannah got squeezed Friday and Monday by the same umpire. Their pitcher did not get squeezed.

    It’s like Greg Maddox getting every call but some rookie not getting them except these girls are both freshmen and that sort of thing shouldn’t happen in college where all the girls are generally the same age anyway.

  11. gatorgirl32 says:

    I was so mad when I realized this was the same umpire as the 1st meeting between FL and ASU. I don’t see anything wrong with what Bruder said – she said ASU beat them and WAS the better team, but there is nothing wrong with what she said because the strike zone was inconsistent. That weren’t calling anything for Hannah, but anything remotely close (sometimes not even close) was getting called for the ASU pitcher. The best thing Florida can do is regroup and respond with a fight and urge in game 2 tonight.

    And seriously, the NCAA director of championships said that they pick their best six umpires they have and that is why she is umpiring…. I would HATE to see the ones below he thenr, they must be absolutely terrible!

    • gatorgirl32 says:

      I’ve said it many times before at my dad’s softball games…. I don’t care if an umpire is consistently inconsistent, AS LONG as they are consistently inconsistent with both teams. This umpire was not.

  12. g8ter27 says:

    GOOD FOR THOSE GIRLS!!! That umpire flat out sucked! Walton was right by arguing and Rogers should have been out of the inning with one run….not seven. Does that make a difference in the rest of the game?…you bet it does. After an inning it could have easily been 2-1 gators instead of 7-0 sun devils. Two calls, a missed strike and “Chris” taking a nap behind the plate missing the hbp changed all of that. Anyone who saw that game and thought the strike zone was equal for both teams must have Mr. Magoo for a dad. I wonder where Drumm lives or went to school. I sure hope it wasn’t in Arizona.

  13. g8ter27 says:

    P.S. Is it just me, or do others find Chris Drumm smokin hot?

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