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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 11:33 p.m.
 

High school baseball season is almost three weeks old, but you'd never know it by looking at the standings.

Rain, snow and a lack of clear days to allow fields to dry out have conspired to keep teams off the field.

But with warmer, sunnier days in the forecast, local teams might finally get a chance to dig in and face their spring schedule.

The result of the many postponements, however, is a compacted schedule that will lump plenty of important section contests into a short time.

“It's going to get real intense, real quick,” Kittanning coach John Davis said. “You're going to find out real quick who your pitchers are, and we're going to have to call a couple of kids up to help out.”

Beginning Wednesday at Knoch, Kittanning (1-2, 0-0) will go into a stretch of seven days with five Section 5-AAA games. With only 10 section games on the schedule, the Wildcats' postseason hopes could be made or broken in a very short time span.

“I remember a few years back, we went to Uniontown and played a doubleheader against them and Laurel Highlands, just to get caught up. It's been a while since it's been as bad as that,” Davis said. “It definitely puts a strain on you, but the kids are ready to play. They're tired of practicing.”

Kittanning isn't alone in its scheduling predicament.

Ford City (1-2, 1-1), which hasn't played in a week since a Section 3-AA 3-2 win at Burrell, has a nonsection game against Kiski Prep Wednesday before playing section games Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday.

“We expect to play the next two days — not sure about the forecast Friday — but maybe when we start playing, we can get into a rhythm,” Ford City coach Dennis Montgomery said.

“We look forward to it being a restart, and we have somewhat of an offensive team. We're hoping because we play so many games back-to-back, we might see some (pitchers) that we can get to. All these games bunched up might be an asset to us.”

West Shamokin (0-4, 0-1) doesn't have the luxury of a nonsection game as it has six section contests scheduled in the next eight days, which begins Wednesday with a home game against neighboring Apollo-Ridge (0-2, 0-0).

“Every team is in the same boat, but with us having such a young team, it could be doubly difficult for us,” West Shamokin coach Dave Powers said. “This has definitely been one of the toughest years to get going. Usually, you get that one week of nice weather to dry things up, but we just haven't had that.”

Freeport (2-3, 2-0) has been the most successful of the county's WPIAL schools at getting games played, and on the other end of the spectrum is Leechburg.

The Blue Devils hold the distinction of being the only WPIAL team yet to play after 19 days, but that should change Wednesday when the Blue Devils face Springdale in a Section 4-A game at Kelly Automotive Park in Butler.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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