Delays and cancellations cause headaches for local coaches and playersPublished 12:01am Sunday, April 22, 2012
Ferriday — Trinity Episcopal and Adams County Christian School were locked in the early stages of a pitchers’ duel April 3 when Mother Nature decided to drop buckets of rain on the parade.
Trinity head coach Mitch Ashmore, ACCS head coach Hunter McKeivier and athletic directors Rick Fife (ACCS) and David King (Trinity) gathered in the press box to determine a plan-of-action for the remainder of the game.
The head coach of the home team ultimately has to make the decision choosing to wait on the weather, postpone or cancel the game, and Ashmore said that is one of his least favorite responsibilities of being a coach.
“That’s the hardest thing we have to go through when you have to make that call when there is iffy weather,” Ashmore said. “We always wait until we feel like the field is unplayable, or we might get someone hurt.”
Each local field is different, but Ashmore said Trinity’s home field in Ferriday is one of the worst when it comes to drainage.
“Our field is a lot more conducive to rain difficulties,” he said. “It’s difficult for us when we’ve had some rain get on the field, and we don’t have the manpower or tarps to handle it.”
With that in mind, Ashmore and King decided to postpone the game after the field started to collect puddles.
Weather is an opponent every baseball and softball coach has to deal with, and often a coach will have to become a meteorologist to determine the feasibility of playing a game when rain is in the forecast.
McKeivier said he has to think about two factors when determining if he should cancel a game ahead of time.
“We have to predict and track the forecast to see what might be the time (the rain) hits,” he said. “And we have to think about travel for the other team. We don’t want them to drive two hours and have to turn around and go back.”
Centreville head coach Jason Horne used a similar formula to try to make sure the Tigers’ first-round playoff game with Trinity could be played on time Tuesday.
“We have a big tarp that covers the whole infield, but the outfield was a challenge,” Horne said.
Centreville covered its infield the Sunday before the game, and it stayed on until lunchtime Tuesday, Horne said. Centreville also used pumps to remove the standing water on the field.
While Centreville prepared the field to hold up to the rain, Horne was in contact with King keeping Trinity abreast of the situation. By noon Tuesday Horne determined that the field would be ready and the game could be played as scheduled.
Ashmore said deciding when to make the call to cancel a game ahead of time is always tough.
“Usually we try to do it by the time the opposing team would leave school,” he said. “You don’t want to get them out of school when you’re pretty sure the game will get rained out. You do the best you can.”
Cathedral softball coach Gary Blackwell said softball fields present a different challenge because there is no grass on the infield.
“With a softball field the whole infield is dirt or crushed brick, so it’s not going to be able to drain, and it’s going to soak it up,” Blackwell said.
With that in mind, Cathedral put a top dressing on its infield when the park was built that helps it drain, Blackwell said.
“We’ve had two inches of rain one day and played on the next,” he said.
McKeivier said the ACCS field drains really well in the outfield, but there are low spots on the infield that he will have to work on this offseason.
Cathedral and Natchez High School are in a unique situation because the two schools share Chester Willis Field.
Natchez High School coach Skip Golding said the two schools have a good relationship.
“It’s great sharing with Craig (Beesley),” Golding said. “We’re really glad we have that cooperation between Natchez and Cathedral. We share responsibilities.”
When ACCS and Trinity were forced to postpone the completion of their rained-out game, they also had to determine when they could reschedule.
In doing so, both teams had to replace scheduled games against non-district teams, because district games take priority in rescheduling.
“We have a deadline,” Ashmore said. “We had to get the AC game to make sure we got those in to get in the next district games (against Columbia Academy).”
When non-district games are rained out the coaches do their best to reschedule those games as well, but if there is not an opening in the schedule the game is just canceled.
“We try to work around the schedule,” McKeivier said. “If there is a game where we played a team at our place, we try to give them their home game.”
Ashmore said it’s important financially for the schools as well.
“They are looking for a gate and concession for that game,” he said.
Blackwell said his team is in a strange situation right now, because the Green Wave didn’t have a single rainout all season, but other teams had to cancel games with Cathedral to make up district games.
“This week we had no games,” he said. “We’re just practicing. When you get to this stage of the year boys and girls can only practice so much. They are tired of practicing and they want to play, so that makes it a little harder.”