Texas softball coach Mike White was ejected after the first inning of his team’s 6-1 loss to Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament on Friday at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, and before exiting the field, made an obscene gesture.
White issued a written statement apologizing for raising his middle finger toward the umpires after his ejection, which followed an extended argument of a call that had been overturned by video review, allowing Oklahoma State to score a run.
“Out of frustration I did something while leaving the field of play that I regret, and hope that my apology will be accepted for my uncharacteristic indiscretion,” the apology read, specifically listing the Big 12 Conference, the OSU and Texas teams, and the Texas fans. “I know that I have embarrassed the University of Texas, the Texas softball program and my athletic director, Chris Del Conte, who have placed trust in me to lead this team in an honorable way.
“Today was certainly not the right way to conduct oneself during softball competition. I am an intense competitor by nature, and in the heat of the moment I made a rash decision which I truly regret.
The action occurred while White was still on the field and it was captured by ESPN+ cameras during the broadcast. It is possible that White could be in line for some kind of reprimand from the conference office, though no such announcements were made Friday.
White was unhappy after a bizarre bottom of the first inning when two video reviews overturned umpires’ calls to allow OSU to score two runs.
After Oklahoma State’s Miranda Elish hit a grounder to Texas pitcher Hailey Dolcini, she caught teammate Chelsea Alexander in a rundown between third base and home plate. As Alexander sprinted for home, she was tagged out by Texas catcher Mary Iakopo as the two collided in the basepath a few feet in front of the plate.
The play went to review, which verified obstruction by Iakopo. That gave Oklahoma a 1-0 lead with one out.
Oklahoma State’s Sydney Pennington followed with a flyout to center field. Chyenne Factor tagged from third base, but Elish did not tag up at second. The throw home was too late to get Factor, but Texas got the ball back to second base to double off Elish for the final out of the inning.
Initially, umpires ruled that Factor’s run didn’t count, but after an argument from OSU coach Kenny Gajewski, the call went to video review. It was confirmed that Factor scored before Elish was recorded out at second base, giving OSU a 2-0 lead.
“That’s a timing play,” said Sally Walker, the Big 12 softball umpire coordinator. “They didn’t see when she crossed the plate, and whether that occurred before the out at second base. That’s something we have to be sure of, and it’s also a reviewable call, so no need to try to speculate.”
White immediately began arguing with umpires after the review, eventually taking his place in the third-base coaching box for the top of the second inning. However, he continued to express his displeasure to third base umpire Naomi Erdahl, who threw him out of the game.
“If I was Mike White, I’d be pissed, to be honest, but the umpires got it right, to be honest,” Gajewski said. “It’s a wacky rule… The umpires were actually a little bit confused, because they kept telling me that the throw went to second base.
“I said, ‘The ball was thrown home.’ I was thankful that we have replay, because if not, we only get one run. But credit our kids for playing hard and running hard. But it was wacky. It was wild.”
Before leaving the field, White raised his middle finger in the direction of the umpires.
“The run scored before the out was made and he didn’t understand that,” Walker said. “He didn’t agree with that. That’s a softball rule that’s been there for many years. He did not like that. Then he wanted to review that the runner on third base left early. That’s a non-reviewable call. He wouldn’t let go of that. He wanted to continue with that.
“Once they finally convinced him that it’s not a reviewable call and we need to play ball, that’s when he proceeded to go down the baseline and do what he did to the third base umpire.”
Oklahoma State (40-12) advances to the Big 12 title game against top-ranked Oklahoma at 3 p.m. ET Saturday. Texas (38-17-1) will now wait to see what its seed will be in the NCAA Championship, with the Longhorns in the mix to receive a top-16 seed and homefield advantage for next week’s NCAA Regionals.
Q&A with Big 12 softball umpire coordinator
Below is the full transcript of the pool reporter interview with Sally Walker, the Big 12 softball umpire coordinator.
Q: On the play that was overturned by review in the bottom of the first inning ruling an OSU run to have scored via obstruction, what was called and subsequently found in review?
A: “The umpire on the field did not have obstruction. What he had was that she was clearly out. So when it goes to review, we clearly see on review that she had been in an obstructive path, clearly had the runner obstructed, so the call was overturned, the run scores based on the obstruction call.”
Q: On the next run that scored on the double play in the bottom of the first inning, also after review, do you know what the initial ruling was, regarding why the run was said to not count?
A: “The umpire did not see whether the run had scored or not. Then when they came out and Oklahoma State wanted the run to score, then that’s why we went to review. So we went to review, and as soon as the run scores, and the subsequent third out of the inning was made at second base, that’s a timing play. They didn’t see when she crossed the plate, and whether that occurred before the out at second base. That’s something we have to be sure of, and it’s also a reviewable call, so no need to try to speculate. We’ll just go get it taken care of. Even though it’s a force play, per se, because the run scored before the third out was made, the run does count. That’s what video review confirmed. Then when they came out and explained the situation to Coach White, he was like, that’s a force play, absolutely it’s a force play. But the run scored before the out was made and he didn’t understand that. He didn’t agree with that. That’s a softball rule that’s been there for many years. He did not like that. Then he wanted to review that the runner on third base left early. That’s a non-reviewable call. He wouldn’t let go of that. He wanted to continue with that. Once they finally convinced him that it’s not a reviewable call and we need to play ball, that’s when he proceeded to go down the baseline and do what he did to the third base umpire.”