A Tulsa co-ed softball team tells News On 6 why their fun summer league, turned sour. They said an unwritten rule made certain members of the team feel discriminated against.
Although the team captain said she read all the rules, she was shocked on opening day to find out women weren't allowed on the pitcher's mound.
"It's supposed to be a fun game," Captain Mariah Chitwood said. "It's slow pitch, co-ed, softball."
She said three of the women on her team are pitchers and on opening day an umpire approached the mound, and told one of women she couldn't pitch.
"I was so irritated," Anna Hanson said. "I was like, 'what century are we living in?' Are you kidding me?"
Hanson is Chitwood's wife, and also plays on the team. She said they contacted the league's director, Nic Wehr.
"Everyone signed a waiver, paid to play the game," she said. "This is a co-ed league. Why on earth would a woman not be allowed to pitch?"
"We don't need you to protect us," Chitwood said. "We're okay. If we get hit in the face, that's on us."
They said Wehr responded that pitching is the most dangerous position on the field, and many men in the league refused to bat against a female pitcher.
"If he can't bat against a woman pitcher, that's just silly, and he should take an out," Hanson said. "That should be the rule."
Wehr didn't go on camera, but he said in a text message he's created a new waiver specifically for pitchers, both men and women, so anyone can pitch. He said this was never a discrimination issue, but a safety issue.
At the time we interviewed Hanson, she said they hadn't heard from Wehr since they asked for a rule change on Sunday.
"We had not heard from him until you brought up that he's now supposedly on Sunday bringing new waivers," she said.
Wehr said the new pitcher waivers will require all pitchers, regardless of gender, to wear a face mask. He said the waiver will explain the dangers of pitching, and anyone who signs it will acknowledge they understand those dangers and will wear the safety equipment.
"With the vast difference in athletic ability and experience playing the sport between players, we feel that protective gear and a clear understanding of the dangers is necessary," Wehr said.
"Personally, I wish there was no league specific gender rules... but the softball community has its gender specific rules and guide lines," he continued. "In time, hopefully they'll change nationwide."
Wehr also said they tried to get a separate softball league division going this year that didn't have specific gender rules, but weren't able to get it off the ground in time.