The Van-Far Lady Indians softball players can’t help but smile the past few days after they won the school’s first ever district title in the sport last Friday.
What many fans may not know is that the Lady Indians nearly didn’t get the chance to make a run at the crown.
The Van-Far R-I School District issued an official press release on Thursday, October 8 to explain what happened in regards to the Lady Indians’ changing status in the Class 1, District 4 Tournament on Wednesday.
As one of six schools in the tournament, the Lady Indians were the No. 2 seed and were set for a first round bye with a chance to battle Silex or New Haven in the semifinals.
Then at approximately 9 a.m. last Wednesday morning, the district received information regarding a possible by-law violation regarding the number of regular season games and tournaments played by the softball team during the regular season. The violation, at the time, ruled the team ineligible for postseason play.
According to the release, a new bracket was reissued publicly showing Van-Far having to forfeit, eliminating them from the tournament.
This pushed Community R-VI into the semifinals with a first round bye to face Silex, who was now the new No. 2 seed. Meanwhile, New Haven and Wellsville would be the only two teams playing in a first round game.
“Beginning at this time, and throughout the morning and early afternoon on October 7, we communicated with the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) on the details of this issue,” said Van-Far Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hunter in the press release.
Van-Far Athletic Director Blake Logan formally appealed the issue of games/tournaments played. The appeal by Van-Far was upheld at 2 p.m. and the bracket was then reinstated to its original form.
“MSHSAA Executive Director Dr. Kerwin Urhan and the MSHSAA staff were exemplary in their communication on the appeal,” Superintendent Dr. Hunter said in the release. “The efforts of Athletic Director Blake Logan, in support of our student-athletes, were outstanding. Principal Cindy Pirch, Coach Logan and myself were pleased with the appeal process and the consideration of our student-athletes. Most important are the student-athletes on the Van-Far High School varsity softball team, who were innocent in this situation. They have simply played hard and represented Van-Far and our community in a fabulous manner.”
Superintendent Dr. Hunter said team members were pulled from their class twice on Wednesday to keep them informed. The first update was to inform them that the bracket had been publicly changed and why. The second time was to inform them of the appeal being granted.
The Lady Indians returned to the practice field at 3:15 p.m.
They eventually played their district semifinals game against Silex before upsetting Clopton one night later in the championship game in extra innings.
Van-Far will take on St. Elizabeth in the state sectional round at 6 p.m. Wednesday, October 14 at St. Elizabeth. The school is located about two hours south of Vandalia.
St. Elizabeth, who has just an 8-14 record, ad-vanced to sectionals after upsetting a 21-4 Crocker team in the Class 1, District 3 Tournament.
The State Quarterfinals are scheduled for noon on Saturday, October 17. Get the latest playoff information on MSHSAA’s website, www.mshsaa.org.