Summer rain will affect teams down the road

Published 9:10 am Thursday, June 22, 2017

Early last week, Vicksburg High baseball coach Derrick DeWald woke up early and spent the day at Bazinsky Field. He cut some grass, lined the infield and worked on the mound to make it just right for that day’s game.

The process took hours, and was undone in about 45 minutes by a thunderstorm that gave way to a steadier rain. The field was flooded, the chalk lines washed away, and the sweat in DeWald’s shirt replaced by rainwater as he traversed from one dugout to the next.

It’s a scene that’s been repeated at baseball and softball fields all over Mississippi the past few weeks. One of the wettest Junes in recent memory has washed away the bulk of what should be a busy and important month for the state’s high school teams.

This is the month when the groundwork is laid for next season. The games don’t count in the standings, but valuable experience is gained and conditioning programs started. Teams have been able to work on the latter — heck, it’s about all they’ve been able to do — but the former has largely been one big rainout.

Youth and tournament teams probably have fared no better, and might even have been hit harder. Many organizations rely on weekend tournaments to raise funds for the year, and shortened or rained out events can have a big impact on their bottom lines. Other events like charity golf tournaments might feel the same pinch if they need to refund entry fees or reschedule to less desirable weekends.

As Tropical Storm Cindy rolls through the region this week, it’s bringing with it flooding rains and even more disappointment. The clock is quickly ticking down to the end of the summer workout period at the end of next week, and any rainouts at this stage will be difficult or impossible to reschedule.

To put it simply, it’s been a big, muddy mess whose effects could very well linger until next spring. I’ve often wondered how players can roll over momentum from games played in June when there’s a seven-month gap until their next meaningful game, but it’s hard to deny there are benefits to playing an extra 30 games.

If there is a silver lining to these perpetual rain clouds, it’s that every team in Mississippi is dealing with it. Hardly anyone will have an advantage when it’s all said and done.

Or, as the saying goes, everybody’s in the same boat.

In this case, it’s literal. It might be the only way to get to the ballpark.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

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 sports reporters in the paper's 137-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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