Tamitcha Evans liked the idea of winning the Baltimore County girls' softball championship.
But victory was bittersweet yesterday for Tamitcha and her Turners Station teammates as they received their trophies on the Bedford Elementary School athletic field in Sudbrook Park without playing the Catonsville Comets -- their final opponent in what has turned out to be a gameless tournament.
Three all-girl teams refused to play Tamitcha's club in the tournament because the Turners Station roster includes four boys.
"I want to get the trophy, but it doesn't feel right getting it without playing the game," said Tamitcha, second baseman for the coed team. "I'd feel much better if we played for the championship."
Managers of the other tournament teams said it was unsafe for their girls to play against boys, and they want the county rule that allows boys to play in girls' leagues to be changed.
Charles Fisher, Baltimore County deputy director of recreation and parks, said his office had heard similar concerns from managers whose teams played Turners Station during the season.
But he said the rule -- which lets boys and girls play in the same league as long as no safety problems exist -- could not be changed mid-season.
"We had determined before the county tournament that we would review the rule, and we will be looking into it," Mr. Fisher said.
Coach Tanya Evans and some of her Turners Station players -- the only black team in the tournament -- have claimed that race was the key factor behind their opponents' protests.
But Catonsville coach Mike Mohler disagreed and said it was sad that race was used as an excuse when the fault lay with the rule. He came to the field to congratulate the Turners Station team for winning the championship -- but without his team.
He invited the champions -- minus the four boys -- to play a scrimmage game with his team and with two others, Lutherville-Timonium and Parkville. The invitation was turned down after a Turners Station team vote.
Catonsville, Parkville and Lutherville-Timonium put together the three-team scrimmage to allow the girls to play their own tournament after all three teams forfeited their chances of being county champs.
"It's unfortunate that it came down to black and white when that's not the case at all," said Mr. Mohler, whose daughter Meghann plays left field. "If any of the other tournament teams had shown up with boys on their team, our position would have been the same."
Turners Station third baseman Kenya Seward said she understood the other teams' fears.
"It makes me mad because we get all the way up here [to the tournament], and then they forfeit. But I don't think it's a racial thing," said Kenya, 13. "But the boys look older than what they really are, and I understand why the other teams are afraid to play against them."
Kenya added that the boys probably wouldn't hurt anyone. Catonsville's Kelly Chavis agreed.
"I don't want to play them because I don't think it's right for boys to play in a girls' softball game," said Kelly, her team's first baseman. "But if we had to play them, I don't think they'd hurt us. I think we could handle them."
Kelly Chavis said playing softball is more important than winning the county title.
"I am not upset that we aren't playing for the county trophy. We are still playing girls' softball, and it's still fun," said Kelly. "If I were on that team [Turners Station], I'd feel disappointed for winning the tournament without doing anything."
Turners' shortstop Latoria Smith agreed.
"I am upset because . . . we practiced two hours straight and then they don't want to play us," Latoria said. "I'd rather have the trophy knowing that we beat them fair and square."