The Arizona Charter Athletic Association state championship baseball game wasn't played Thursday night because Mesa Prep's second baseman is a girl.
Paige Sultzbach, a freshman, is playing baseball because her high school doesn't offer girls softball. But the school Mesa Prep was to face in the final, Our Lady of Sorrows Academy, said its boys would not compete against a team with a girl and forfeited the game - and the state title - to Mesa Prep.
"As a Catholic school, we promote the ideal of forming and educating boys and girls separately during the adolescent years, especially in physical education,ā Our Lady of Sorrows said in a statement, according to CNN affiliate KTVK.
āIt takes tremendous moral courage to stand by what it is you believe, and they are doing what they think is right,ā Mesa Prep Headmaster Robert Wagner told KTVK.
But Sultzbach's mother, Pamela Sultzbach, said her daughter and the Mesa Prep team were being done a disservice.
"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," Pamela Sultzbach told the Arizona Republic.
"I respect their views, but it's a bit out of the 18th century," Amy Arnold, Mesa Prep's athletic director, told the Republic.
Mesa Prep and Our Lady of Sorrows played twice during the regular season, but Sultzbach sat out, as they were away games for her team.
āIt was on their field, and I felt the need to respect their rules,ā she told KTVK.
The final would have been on a neutral field, and Sultzbach wanted to play.
Now, despite being hailed as state champions, Mesa Prep will feel like they've missed something, Pamela Sultzbach said.
"This team has worked so hard," she said. "They're undefeated. They had one game left. At our school, we're taught that when you start something, you complete it, and they weren't done."