Texas junior college pitcher is no longer with the team after tackling opponent

A junior college pitcher who leveled an opposing player during his home run trot in Texas was hit with a four-game suspension on Thursday before the school announced he’s “no longer with the team.”

The incident, which was captured on video, saw the game between host Weatherford College and the North Central Texas College suspended in the top of the sixth inning shortly after pitcher Owen Woodward surrendered a go-ahead home run to Josh Phillips.

The North Central Texas batter had just touched third base when the Weatherford pitcher raced toward him, slamming Phillips to the ground and sending his helmet flying, video broadcast by TSRN Sports showed.

In a statement Thursday, Weatherford said the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference had enacted a four-game suspension for the pitcher following the incident.

However, that same statement from Weatherford baseball coach Jeff Lightfoot said “the pitcher is no longer with the team.” The statement did not clarify if he was thrown off the team or quit on his own.

It added that the Weatherford College Student Services Office had also handed down additional discipline to the student, but said it would not release those details, citing college policy and federal regulations protecting student privacy.

Weatherford said the North Central Texas batter had also been handed a two-game suspension for taunting.

Meanwhile, a number of North Central Texas players who left their dugout during the incident were handed two-game suspensions, both schools said.

Before the incident unfolded, the batter’s long ball had given the visiting team a 3-2 lead in Wednesday’s game, which was the first of a four-game series between the two colleges. Weatherford said game one would be a “double forfeit” following the incident.

“Games two and three will be considered NCTC forfeits due to the school not having enough current certified players to field a team,” Weatherford said. Meanwhile, game four is scheduled to be played at North Central Texas on Saturday. 

That means the tackle and ensuing bench-clearing brawl will result in three losses for North Central Texas and two victories and one defeat for Weatherford, according to the school that’s 60 miles east of downtown Dallas.

North Central Texas spokesman Jake Laughlin said Friday his school is still seeking to clarify what a “double forfeit” means, if both schools will be assigned losses for that halted game on Wednesday.

North Central Texas is also asking the conference to reconsider assigning it two losses for not having enough players.

“We are appealing for the fairest results for our athletes,” Laughlin said.

In an earlier statement, Lightfoot had said school officials were “shocked and disappointed at what happened in our game.”

“We do not condone this type of behavior. We have worked hard to build a program with the highest of standards,” he said. “We are completely embarrassed by this incident, and we apologize to North Central Texas College and the fans of WC baseball. This type of behavior cannot be tolerated.”

North Central Texas Chancellor Brent Wallace said he hoped the “unfortunate events at Weatherford College will be used as a teaching moment for our student athletes to help ensure these incidents do not occur in the future.”

The Associated Press contributed.

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