The Catalina High School baseball team was in cruise control the last several weeks, comfortable enough in the Class 4A Gila Region and state Power Ranking standings to know it could focus on preparing for the state tournament.
Now, its postseason fate lies in the hands of the Arizona Interscholastic Association after a paperwork mix-up regarding two players who transferred to the school this season has left the team having to forfeit all games prior to April 28.
Catalina athletic director Ken Harcus said Friday the school discovered April 24 it had been in violation of AIA bylaw 15.10 regarding the eligibility of transferring students.
When a student-athlete transfers to a new school, there is a one-year waiting period before the athlete can compete in athletics, unless certain criteria are met.
The two players in question met the criteria, but the proper paperwork documenting that was not turned into the AIA until last week.
“Catalina has forfeited all games up to April 28 when the players were cleared by AIA before the Sahuarita game,” Harcus wrote in an e-mail.
The forfeits drop Catalina’s record from 21-7 overall and 9-3 in league play to 2-26 overall and 2-10 in region games – the team went 2-1 this past week since the players’ eligibility was restored.
Catalina also has been eliminated from the top four spots of the Gila Region standings, eliminating it from the region tournament, which begins Saturday at Cherry Field.
The top two finishers from the region tournament automatically qualify for the state playoffs, as do any remaining teams ranked in the top 16 of the state’s Power Rankings formula.
The state tournament begins May 9.
Catalina can’t do anything about the Gila Region tournament, but it hopes to get the forfeited games restored to wins when it appeals to the AIA’s Executive Board on Monday in Phoenix.
The board could uphold the forfeits, ending Catalina’s season.
Or, because the players were ultimately ruled eligible transfers and the situation arose from not submitting the paperwork in time, the board could decide to restore the results of forfeited games and instead place sanctions of some kind on the school’s athletic department.
Should the game results be restored, Catalina’s Power Ranking position – the Trojans were the No. 4-ranked 4A-II team as of Friday – would likely be high enough for the team to qualify for the state tournament.