There is really no precedent for what happened Wednesday during a Texas junior college baseball game, when Owen Woodward, a pitcher for Weatherford College, darted off the mound. after giving up ran home and stabbed the long-baller to the ground as he rounded third base. I can’t remember another time a home sprint was interrupted by a pitcher who wanted to play the batter who had just sent him deep.
The action against Woodward came quickly from the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference, with a 4-game suspension. Weatherford College head coach Jeff Lightfoot is even more assertive, remove Woodward from the show. It turned out that Woodward’s throw that missed the run that led to the scuffle was his final goal for the Coyotes.
The batter, Josh Phillips of North Central Texas State University, was suspended for two games after being disqualified for taunting, allegedly saying “fuck you” to Woodward, who instigated the attack. Phillips was also cautioned by the referee earlier in the game for exchanging words with another Weatherford pitcher.
The conference also introduced a two-match suspension for any player or assistant coach who left their position on the field or their job to create a major confrontation. That means the entire North Central team except for two players will be forced to sit out two games. Four other Weatherford players are also suspended.
Woodward’s stupid tackles and Phillips tackle could cost him more than a spot on the middle school roster. He is the Coyotes lead with four saves during the season. His form at JUCO has given him the opportunity to play at Division-I level, as he is a Houston player. A report from Houston Chronicle Cougars coach Todd Whitting said he was “monitoring the situation.” A second chance is deserved from those who pay the proper retribution. Assaulting someone on the field takes more than a promise to learn from your mistakes when posting on social media.
The game between Weatherford and North Central was the opening contest of a four-game series. The conference ruled that the first game, which was stopped after the fight, would be ruled a forfeit for both teams. North Central must forfeit the next two games due to having two available players. The final game of the series will be played Saturday.
A statement from Weatherford on Wednesday read that Woodward would face potential disciplinary action from the college, including possible expulsion. In the release stating Woodward’s dismissal, Weatherford didn’t expound on that action. Weatherford doesn’t have an online student directory, but Woodward is no longer listed on the Coyote’s online roster. The Weatherford College Police Department is also investigating. Woodward’s social media accounts are set to private.
The conference’s original four-game suspension against Woodward would’ve been a solid move for a normal mound-charge after intentionally hitting a batter. Being the aggressor after mere trash-talk makes this situation worse where he’ll be lucky to suit up for Houston. That kind of energy is exactly what college coaches want gone from their locker rooms. I can’t see Whitting, regardless of any relationship built through recruiting Woodward, decide to openly welcome him into the Cougars’ fold.
Although Phillips isn’t exactly innocent in this situation either, forgiving cuss words is a million times easier. Weatherford did the absolute right thing by removing Woodward from the team less than 48 hours after the incident. Any black eye the fight had on the Coyotes is lessened due to the swift penalty. The tape doesn’t lie. What Woodward did is assault, regardless of wearing a baseball cap and jersey. And it’s disgusting.