Viral softball incident: Texas school district's coach, teams on probation after catcher hits batters with ball
AUSTIN (KMID/KPEJ) – An investigation into a high school softball game in Texas that made headlines earlier this month has resulted in two-year probations for the school district and its athletics director.
The Texas University Interscholastic League launched its investigation after a catcher playing for McCamey High School appeared to deliberately hit a batter in the head with a throw — not once, but twice.
McCamey was facing off against Cisco High School in early May when the incidents occurred. In video captured by one of the batters’ parents, a Cisco batter was at the plate when the McCamey catcher looked as if she was throwing toward third base. Instead, she hit the Cisco batters in their heads with the ball.
No one was ejected after either instance.
“This is surely uncalled for. Catcher should have been ejected,” one viewer wrote after seeing the viral video on Facebook. Another called her a “dirty player.”
Shortly afterward, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) told Nexstar’s KMID it was “aware of an incident that occurred during the McCamey vs. Cisco Softball Playoff Series” and was in the process of investigating.
This week, the UIL decided to put both the McCamey Independent School District and the head softball coach softball coach Michael Woodard (who is also the district’s football coach and athletic director) on a two-year probation. UIL will also publicly reprimand Woodard and the district.
The decision came after Woodard was questioned by the State Executive Committee. During that testimony, Woodard confirmed that his catcher had done this in four total games this season. The McCamey team had earned five batter interference calls — which resulted in outs — prior to the Cisco incidents that went viral on social media, Woodard said.
The committee strongly emphasized the lack of action and concern shown by Woodard. Committee chairwoman Johanna Denson told Woodard that this lack of action contributed to the appearance that he was condoning the behavior.
Woodard, however, maintained that he did not condone the behavior, claiming the footage that went viral is “not how he remembers” the incident occurring. Woodard told the committee that after the second batter was hit and the Cisco crowd erupted, he initially defended his catcher, but now regrets not taking her out of the game.
In hindsight, he admitted that he now believes his catcher intentionally hit the batters. He also admitted that he never reached out to Cisco to find out the condition of the batter that was hit in the face.
McCamey ISD Superintendent Michael Valencia announced to the committee that Woodard would not return to coaching softball at McCamey High, though that had been decided before these incidents, as Woodard was only coaching because of a staffing shortage.
Woodard will continue his service as the head football coach and athletic director of McCamey ISD during his probation. UIL has said that if any similar incidents take place at McCamey ISD athletic events during this two-year probation, the punishment will be more severe.