Rain wreaks havoc on baseball, softball
Published 12:00 am Friday, February 27, 2004
[2/27/04]The first week of baseball and softball season in Central Mississippi has been largely wiped out by a never-ending string of rainy, cold days. The bad weather has forced the postponement of several games and caused coaches to rearrange practices or cancel them altogether.
“It’s frustrating for the simple fact that not only can we not play, we can’t practice either. If we hadn’t been able to play but been able to practice, it might have helped us a little bit,” said PCA coach Randy Wright, whose team has been limited to one day of throwing and had its first two games postponed. “We finally start to get our arms in shape and get our eyes on the baseball, and then you get five or six days where you can’t do anything.”
PCA is in worse shape than most teams because all of its practice facilities including a batting cage are outdoors. Vicksburg High coach Jamie Creel is in a similar situation, although he has a parking lot and a batting cage on slightly higher ground than the practice field. That’s still not much help, though.
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“Even the concrete is wet,” said Creel, who has had his team lifting weights in addition to doing work in the cage and in the parking lot. “There’s nothing you can do. But we’re not by ourselves.”
Indeed. Warren County’s softball teams are also in the same boat.
St. Aloysius, WC and VHS have all had games postponed this week, although WC managed to play Thursday night at Madison Central. All three teams have been hurt by a lack of quality practice time, though, and have been reduced to lifting weights or taking limited batting practice indoors.
“We just try to do what we can in the gym, but it’s hard to reproduce a field practice, and it’s impossible to do situational defense,” St. Al softball coach Gene Rogillio said.
Not all of Warren County’s baseball teams have been crippled by the rain, though. Warren Central has an indoor batting cage at its fieldhouse, and St. Aloysius uses a lot of drills in its practices that can easily be done in the school’s gym.
The lack of time practicing defense hurts, but those teams can at least keep up on their hitting.
“We work a ton on fundamentals. We do a lot of drill work, and I think that makes a big difference,” St. Al coach Joe Graves said. “We take quality cuts in the gym and do a lot of the things you can do on the field. I think that’s a big advantage.”
St. Al also runs in the gym, lifts weights, and puts in a more physically exhausting workout when the weather turns sour. Graves joked that some of his players cringe when the skies darken.
“When it rains, they don’t like to see the gym too much,” he said with a laugh.
While the lost practice time hurts, the weather’s biggest effect is on the schedule. Coaches everywhere are trying to reschedule games whenever and wherever they can, leading to some strange arrangements:
Wright worked the phones all week and managed to schedule a split doubleheader with Indianola Academy and Madison-Ridgeland Academy neither of which was on PCA’s original schedule for Saturday. The first game was to be at Indianola at noon. The Eagles would then drive two hours back to Vicksburg to host MRA that night.
The plan was scrapped when MRA’s basketball team, which included seven baseball players, advanced in the MPSA Overall basketball tournament and the school’s baseball coach canceled the game against PCA. The Eagles will still travel to Indianola on Saturday, though, for a season-opener that has been delayed for five days and may still be postponed.
Vicksburg and Warren Central both had three games in the Mid-Mississippi Classic tournament postponed. WC will play one game tonight and a doubleheader on Saturday, while VHS will play a rare tripleheader on Saturday. The Gators will also play on Tuesday and next Friday, stretching their pitching staff to the limit.
“It’ll be the first tripleheader since I’ve been here,” said Creel, who is in his fifth season at VHS. “We’re playing teams that are a couple of hours away. When else are you going to do them?”
St. Al postponed tonight’s division opener at Pelahatchie and will play it as a doubleheader at Bazinsky Field on April 6. The Flashes play another doubleheader against McLaurin on April 3, giving them five games in six days including three division games.