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Eric Sondheimer has been covering high school sports for the Los Angeles Times since 1997 and in Southern California since 1976. Get his latest from the field and follow all our prep sports coverage and analysis here.


Another school is banished from softball playoffs because of illegal batting practice

Despite repeated reminders and warnings that batting practice is illegal prior to Southern Section playoff games in baseball and softball, another team has been forced to forfeit.

The Southern Section announced on Friday that Bishop Conaty-Loretto has forfeited its Division 7 softball victory on Thursday for an illegal batting practice.

Cornelia Connelly will advance to host St. Mary's on Tuesday in a second-round game.

In recent years, baseball teams have been forced to forfeit playoff games because of illegal batting practices captured on video.

Last season, Torrance forfeited because of the batting practice rule. In 2014, Peninsula's baseball team forfeited.

The rule is clearly displayed in both softball and baseball bulletins.

The softball ban wording: "Batting practice will be construed as any type of pitching motion with ANY type of ball from in front of the batter (including pitching machines, underhand tossing, overhand throwing or pepper).

"Side soft toss and batting tees will be acceptable for pre-game batting warmup. The player who tosses the ball must not be standing; they must be sitting on a knee directly to the side facing the batter. The ball should be lifted, not pitched, to the batter."

If coaches don't know it or refuse to believe it, opposing teams and their parents come armed with phones that take video. And they are definitely taking video.

Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons gave a statement before the playoffs began once again warning coaches about the rule.

"The batting practice rule, as it involves CIF Southern Section championship playoffs, is very clearly outlined in the CIF-SS baseball and softball playoff bulletins on the section website. If for any reason there is even a minimal lack of clarity or even if you believe you know the rule we strongly encourage coaches and athletic directors to reach out via phone or email and contact the CIF-SS office to eliminate any possibility that an adult mistake translates into a student-athlete penalty," he wrote.

And yet, seemingly every playoff season, someone is left to forfeit because of a mistake.

There are still two weeks left in the playoffs, so get your phones and video cameras ready.

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