ASHLAND — The Ashland softball team’s tournament run came to an end before it even got started.

The Arrows, who were to host Toledo Start in the opening round of the Division I sectional tournament Wednesday afternoon, have been ruled ineligible for postseason play by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

The OHSAA determined that Ashland participated in a game before the official start of the softball season on March 23.

Ashland took part in the Southern Warrior Classic in Tennessee in what the Ashland athletic department believed was a scrimmage on March 22.

“Ashland High School viewed all of these contests as scrimmages because there were no game contracts signed and normal game rules were modified,” Ashland athletic director Jason Goings and high school principal Josh Packard said in a joint statement.

The OHSAA began investigating the situation on April 30 and ruled on May 2 that the opposing team in the March 22 contest considered it a regular season game.

“Because of this, (the) OHSAA considered the contest a regular season game as their bylaws state that, ‘A scrimmage must be considered the same for all schools involved,’ ” Goings and Packard said in their statement.

Ashland appealed the OHSAA ruling, but the appeals panel upheld the original decision because tournament champions had been crowned and admission had been charged.

“While the administration and coaching staff of Ashland High School understand that (the) OHSAA must uphold the rules and bylaws, this is an unfortunate situation for our team,” Goings and Packard said. “There was no intent to break the rules or gain a competitive advantage by playing outside the dates for the regular season.

“The intent of the trip was to bond as a team and gain valuable experience by playing in scrimmages against other high-quality teams in more favorable weather conditions. We offer our sincere apologies to our players, parents and fans.

"Moving forward, our policy on out-of-state competition will include checking with the Ohio High School Athletic Association prior to considering any trip to be certain there are no violations.”

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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