Weather slowing WC, St. Al in summer

Published 11:14 am Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Warren Central coach Conner Douglas walks off the field after Monday's summer game against St. Aloysius was called on account of rain. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

Warren Central coach Conner Douglas walks off the field after Monday’s summer game against St. Aloysius was called on account of rain. (Ernest Bowker/The Vicksburg Post)

Just before St. Aloysius and Warren Central took the field Monday afternoon, a light drizzle began to fall on Viking Field.

Ten minutes later, it was a full-fledged downpour. A few minutes after that, another rainout was in the books for both teams as their summer of sogginess continued.

The two teams’ varsity squads have had more games rained out this summer — three doubleheaders each — than they’ve played. It’s turned what’s normally a time to evaluate and retool rosters into an exercise in frustration.

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“Our first six games of varsity were rained out. We just haven’t had very good luck with Mother Nature,” Warren Central coach Conner Douglas said.

Warren Central has played five varsity games so far, and has 10 more scheduled before the summer season wraps up July 1 with a doubleheader against St. Al at Bazinsky Field. Its next contest is today at Brandon.

The Vikings, though, have gotten more games in with their lower ranks. They’re fielding ninth-grade and junior varsity teams this summer in addition to the varsity.

The original plan, Douglas said, was for each team to play about two dozen games.

“We have a lot of younger guys on the team, so they’re spread out. We only have 12 guys on the varsity squad, so we didn’t have to get as many games in to get them some reps,” Douglas said. “We still have 24 games scheduled with each team. They’re just spread out a little differently, and in tournaments.”

St. Aloysius — which goes by the name Vicksburg Thunder during the summer — has also been bitten by the rainout bug. It didn’t play its first game until last Thursday, and has only gotten three full games in.

A number of regular starters have also been missing from the lineup for various reasons ranging from summer vacations to commitments with other sports and activities.

That’s made it a bit difficult for Steve Hancock, who is transitioning from the role of an assistant coach last season to head coach in 2015, to work with his team.

“It’s frustrating for both groups of kids, because both of us are having trouble getting our games in,” Hancock said. “And it’s sporadic. It won’t rain a drop all day, then it’ll rain for 45 minutes but it’s a downpour and nobody can get anything in.”

Hancock, however, will soon have plenty of opportunites to see his team — weather permitting, of course. The Thunder will play a doubleheader at Madison-St. Joe today, kicking off an exhausting stretch of 10 games in seven days.

The Thunder will also play in the State Games of Mississippi high school baseball tournament in Meridian next week, before finishing the summer with the July 1 doubleheader against Warren Central.

Hancock said there was also a chance Monday’s rainout could be rescheduled.

“We don’t have pitching for that, but we have 10 games in seven days,” Hancock said with a chuckle.

In the limited action his team has seen, Hancock said he’s been pleased with the way they’ve played. The Thunder went 0-3 with a pair of close losses in the St. Andrew’s tournament last weekend.

On Monday, they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning before the rain came. Each of the first seven batters reached base, and Josh Brown had an RBI double.

“For half an inning, that was good baseball,” Hancock said.

On the flip side, Douglas was less than enthused by Warren Central’s brief performance. The Vikings committed two errors, dropped a third strike that got the big inning started, and pitcher Taft Nesmith issued two walks.

Both of Nesmith’s walks came as the rain poured down, the baseball became slick, and the footing on the mound worsened. Douglas said not all of the team’s mistakes, though, were caused by the weather.

“It was just a bad day at the park,” he said. “At the end, the weather affected us, but we’ve got to get past that. We can’t let the elements affect how we play the game.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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