First-year Chopticon softball coach Bob Parsley resigned Saturday after his decision to pull his team off the field in the middle of a game at Huntingtown three days earlier.
"I decided it would be best for the team if I did it," said Parsley, who was the Braves' junior varsity coach last season, and has coached youth sports since 1976.
Parsley called his players off the field with Chopticon trailing, 5-3, in the bottom of the fourth inning. Huntingtown Coach Mike Johnson, who has coached in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference since 1991 and is the 3A South Region chair, said he had never seen anything like it.
"He felt the umpires were doing a lousy job, and he didn't want his kids playing in that game," Johnson said. "When it first happened, everyone was in complete shock because no one knew what was happening. Everyone was shell-shocked for the first 10 minutes."
Johnson said he tried to talk Parsley out of the decision, saying he could face backlash from Chopticon, team parents and perhaps the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
"We discussed it and thought it was best if he did" resign, Chopticon Athletic Director Rich O'Donnell said. The resignation "wasn't encouraged."
Assistant Traci Chappelear has taken over the team for the rest of the season, and the position will be reassessed after the season, O'Donnell said.
The controversy has put a damper on what had been a promising season for Chopticon, which, along with the other St. Mary's County programs, had struggled significantly to stay in step with teams from Charles and Calvert counties.
The Braves have stayed close in many games, thanks to sophomore pitcher Christian Pasquini, who transferred from Thomas Stone.
"She's a good, solid pitcher," Thomas Stone Coach Jessica Roche said. "I know for Chopticon, it's a big thing for them."
Calvert Coach Frank Moore, whose team beat the Braves by a combined 45-0 in four games the past two seasons, only won, 2-0, on Mar. 23.
"It's not like the Chopticon teams in the past," Moore said. "If you don't take them seriously, they're going to come up and get you."
With the top teams in the SMAC split among three regions -- 4A East, 3A South and 2A South -- some players and coaches have joked that the regular season and SMAC title don't mean as much as they have in the past.
Thomas Stone, a 4A team, and La Plata, in 3A, surely don't share that thought. Look at the Cougars' 5-4, eight-inning victory Tuesday for proof.
La Plata (5-2 overall and SMAC) broke a scoreless tie with two runs in the top of the fifth, only to see the Cougars retake the lead 3-2 in the bottom of the inning. In the top of the sixth, La Plata tied the game, and it went into extra innings and the international tiebreaker made for a thrilling finish.
Christine Upright's sharp one-out single to center field drove in Carrie Higdon who, by rule, started the inning on second base, to put La Plata ahead. But the Cougars tied it in the bottom of the inning, when Brittany Therries beat a throw home on a grounder by Betty Jean Tenison.
La Plata couldn't score in the top of the eighth. In the bottom half, Brittany Dyson, who started the inning on second, was bunted over to third by Amanda Sparrow. Maggie Donaldson followed with another bunt. La Plata tried to check Dyson back to third but lost control of the ball as it rolled between the pitching circle and shortstop. Dyson raced home with the winning run.
"I ran back at first," Dyson said. "I never thought that kind of situation would happen in a game like this. The plate looked so far away."
It was a key victory for Thomas Stone (6-2, 5-1), which lost a tough one to Patuxent, 2-1, on April 6. Roche said she didn't want her team falling two games behind front-running Calvert this early in the season, especially with only one regular-season meeting against the Cavaliers.
"This was a big game for us," said Roche, whose team was coming off a 3-2 loss to Chesapeake last Saturday in a game they lost in the bottom of the seventh inning. "The most important thing was they made mistakes and they were still able to bounce back from them."