First it was the snow. Now it’s the rain.
L-L coaches and players can’t seem to catch a break this spring season. The temperature has finally risen out of the mid-thirties but now the rain has made itself a permanent resident in Lancaster County.
With all the postponements, some teams are seeing their practice schedules shrink and their game schedules getting loaded with back-to-back-to-back games.
For some coaches, this spring has been the worst in recent memory as far as preparation and scheduling goes.
“This has been the most challenging winter/spring that I can recall,” Hempfield baseball coach Jeremy Morrison said. “This is my ninth year coaching in the LL league for baseball and I don’t recall another spring where the temperatures and precipitation were as persistent in causing scheduling challenges with practices and games and wreaking havoc with the fields.”
Though the skies are gloomy and the fields are muddy, most players aren’t using the conditions as an excuse for poor performance.
“From day one, our coaching staff has made it very clear that the conditions are the same for every team in Pennsylvania. We are all dealing with the same scenario,” Manheim Central senior Ben Bomberger said. “Tryouts were indoors, batting practices were taken in our gym with the drop down nets and conditioning was running down the halls. We were dealing with what we have.”
Bomberger, who is also recovering from Tommy John surgery, admitted that he and his teammates wish they could have gotten outside a bit earlier and more frequent to get their arms in game shape.
“Halfway through March we finally were able to practice outside and get our arms into the best shape we could before season. To this point, we are still adjusting to the conditions and trying to get every game in that we can. We are doing all we can to try to get an edge over our opponents and we will keep that mentality the whole season.”
Hempfield softball coach Brian Lohr expressed that his players are also feeling a bit penned up because of the weather.
“You can only do so much inside. Gym floors or even indoor turf do not give the girls a real sense of an imperfect field, big sky or wind. So I spend a lot of time not talking about the weather, but instead we work fundamentals of fielding, throwing, pitching and hitting,” Lohr said. “Those do not change. However, you cannot replicate live outdoor game day environment inside. On the plus side, the girls are fired up to get outside and stay outside.”
On the lacrosse side, games may be able to be played in harsher conditions than baseball/softball but that doesn’t mean the conditions don’t take their toll.
“The weather definitely impacts the level of practice we have been dealing with instead of working outside in the environment that we play in,” Cocalico attacker Brett Kupp said. “The field we play on does get muddy and rough to play on, which makes a difference. It would be great to have turf.”
“It is frustrating to see the forecasts and to have to deal with the persistent challenges – polar vortexes, snow, wind chills, or rain,” Morrison said. “I feel for the kids the most. This is their season. It’s not just baseball. It’s the softball teams, the track and field teams, and tennis – all the sports who play outdoors. It’s really unfortunate.”
Even if the skies open up and there is nothing but sunny days ahead, teams now must deal with game schedules that could leave softball pitchers’ arms feeling like Jello and baseball teams plugging unlikely starters into the rotation. Nevertheless, the theme “it’s happening to everyone” is appearing to prevail.
“Hempfield’s Varsity and JV players attend over 70 games during a summer tournament season; playing up to 3 to 4 games in a day. Playing back to back days should not be all that daunting for them,” Lohr said. “What I do not like is playing back to back days leaves less time to fix problems or dedicate time to improving mechanics/plays. While this can be frustrating, focusing on the frustration does not help the girls. So my girls invest time to work on controlling the controllable. It is also a measure of comfort to know that all the other LL League teams are in the same boat with us.”
Hempfield’s baseball skipper is taking the same approach.
“Our approach is always to play the game ahead of us and not worry about anything else,” Morrison said. “If we have a string of consecutive games, our approach really won’t change – one inning at a time and we will concern ourselves with tomorrow when it comes.”
While it would be easy for players to stay down in the dumps about the weather, Bomberger had a refreshing view of what is in store for the rest of the spring season.
“Good times are coming, and we will not let the weather Interfere with the goal that we have set from day one.”
That’s a lesson that surpasses sports.