CLEARED TO PLAY: Skies have cleared, allowing VGSA to wrap up often delayed season

Published 10:29 am Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wounded Warriors' Taryn Lusby fields a ground ball against Pell Lawn Care earlier this season at Bazinsky Park.

Wounded Warriors’ Taryn Lusby fields a ground ball against Pell Lawn Care earlier this season at Bazinsky Park.

When it comes to outdoor sports, Mother Nature is undefeated.

This year, when it came to youth sports in Vicksburg, Mother Nature had her way and pulled off another perfect year.

As the Vicksburg Girls Softball Association works to complete their season this week — a number of weeks late — local league officials and city parks and recreation officials are looking back on a season schedule that was left in near ruin.

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The VGSA’s opening ceremonies were supposed to be held in March. That event was rained out.

In the weeks that followed, game after game was delayed or rescheduled, forcing leagues to redo schedules and wrestle for time and space on local fields.

For the city’s park and recreation department, the weather forced extra hours and additional effort just to keep the fields in playing shape.

“We couldn’t ask anything else from them,” Joe Graves, director of the Vicksburg Parks and Recreation Department, said of his crews. “They worked hard keeping the dry materials out on the field and trying to keep everything in shape for the kids to play without physical harm. They stayed on top of everything on a day-to-day basis.”

Heavy rain forced crews to put in extra hours to make sure the fields are in proper playing conditions and drained so the softball fields are playable. The workers pumped the water out of the fields and added dry materials to the wet spots on the fields in order to keep the fields in shape.

Crews would arrive to the field at Bazinsky Field as early as 6 a.m. in order to get fields in shape for games later in the evening. But Graves credits the VGSA with their patience in getting the season to the end.

“It caused a little bit of a problem at the beginning of the season,” Graves said. “The last three weeks, they’ve had to play extra days that they normally don’t play on during the week. They’ve just caught up now and everything is going smooth.”

Rick Daughtry, the president of the VGSA, said the league had tried to get the season completed by the end of the school year — and no later than June 1 — but again rain forced the schedule back, pushing the season finales to this week.

The weather conditions and rescheduling of games also caused problems with coaches and parents as their schedules have also been pushed back as a result of the weather.

“I’ve had some complaints from parents and they have a reason to complain. It’s all for a good reason,” Daughtry said. “We don’t control Mother Nature, but it worked out in the end.”

For some, this year was the toughest for the league as far as getting games in.

“I’ve been out here for five years. I’ve been making the schedules for three years and it was probably the toughest scheduling year we’ve ever had,” said Mike Foley, vice president of VGSA. Foley is also the head coach of a VGSA team. “Every time we change the schedule to take care of the rainouts we missed, it rains again and we have to change again. It’s tough, especially for parents and grandparents. It’s tough on everybody. Most of the kids want to get the games in.”

As a result of the poor weather conditions in the month of May, the Vicksburg recreational baseball season ended their season May 19 due to the poor conditions caused by the weather.

The goal for the recreational baseball season was to finish their end-of-season tournament by Memorial Day weekend, but Mother Nature took its turn and cut short the recreational baseball season.

While the baseball season was ended earlier than originally expected, softball will wrap up Friday.

“It’s bitter-sweet that it’s ending. We’re pushing through,” Daughtry said. “We pulled into bracket play this week and we’re setting it up as a tournament-type atmosphere. As the tournament ends Friday, it should be fun.”