PHOENIX An Arizona high school forfeited a shot at a state baseball championship on Thursday rather than compete against an opponent that had a 15-year-old girl on its team, an official from the rival school said.
Our Lady of Sorrows Academy in Phoenix had been due to play Mesa Preparatory Academy in the Arizona Charter Athletic Association state championship.
But the team pulled out rather than face the Mesa squad, which fielded 15-year-old Paige Sultzbach at second base, Mesa Preparatory Academy headmaster Robert Wagner said.
"They wouldn't play the game as long as we had a girl on the team who was on the field. It violates their policy about boys playing against girls," Wagner told Reuters.
"It's just unfortunate that our kids who are excited about playing don't have the opportunity," he added.
Reuters was unable to reach Our Lady of Sorrows for comment. But Fox News reported an official at the school as saying it had no option but to forfeit the game.
"Teaching our boys to treat ladies with deference, we choose not to place them in an athletic competition where proper boundaries can only be respected with difficulty," Fox reported the official as saying in a statement.
"Our school aims to instill in our boys a profound respect for women and girls," it added.
Media reports described Our Lady of Sorrows as being run by traditionalist, conservative priests who do not agree with Roman Catholic Church reforms enacted by the Vatican II Council in the 1960s and who broke from the Church in the 1980s.
The girl's mother, Pamela Sultzbach, told the Arizona Republic, "This is not a contact sport, it shouldn't be an issue.
"It wasn't that they were afraid they were going to hurt or injure her, it's that (they believe) that a girl's place is not on a field."
(Editing by Peter Cooney)