MESA, Arizona -- The state championship baseball game between Mesa Preparatory Academy and Our Lady of Sorrows Academy was over before it even began.
The reason the teams did not play on Thursday night is because the second baseman for Mesa Prep is a girl.
The team's coach said that girl helped the team go undefeated so they weren’t about to play in a championship game without her.
“I just joined baseball because the school does not offer high school softball so I decided why not,” said Paige Sultzbach. “The boys have always been supportive, like my big brothers.”
Sultzbach said she’s every bit as competitive as those boys and has never been treated differently, working hard to become the team’s starting second base-woman, helping them win its first-ever state championship. Unfortunately, their win came by forfeit.
“I don't believe anyone wants to win by forfeit or lose by forfeit,” Sultzbach said.
Mesa Prep's opponent, Our Lady of Sorrows Academy, a private school in Phoenix which is part of The Society of Pius X, refused to play a team with a girl on it.
It released a statement that read, "As a Catholic school we promote the ideal of forming and educating boys and girls separately during the adolescent years especially in physical education.”
The statement goes on to explain school policy rules out participation in co-ed sports.
“You've got to admire the stand they take,” said Mesa Prep’s Headmaster Robert Wagner. “It takes tremendous moral courage to stand by what it is you believe and they are doing what they think is right.”
But the Charter Athletic Association policy is clear:
“If girls are not offered a corresponding sport they are allowed to compete on boys teams,” said the association’s Executive Director Randy Baum.
Sultzbach said she did choose to sit out the last two times the teams faced off.
“It was on their field and I felt the need to respect their rules,” she said.
The championship game was to be played in neutral territory so Sultzbach wasn't about to miss it and said she won't let this forfeit deter her future.
“If we have a high school softball team I will definitely sign up, but if we do not then I’m 100 percent on the boys baseball team,” she said.
The Charter Athletic Association says it will review its policies but is certain they are making the right decision allowing girls to play sports with the boys.