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Weather woes still scuttling spring sports

| Thursday, March 28, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Southmoreland's Emily Zelenka runs the steps with her teammates during an indoor practice session for the Southmoreland track team Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at Southmroeland High School. Many spring teams have been relegated to indoor practices due to the inclement weather.

During the spring sports season, coaches and athletes are conditioned to deal with a few rainouts and chilly practices. But the way this season has started out has put those involved with high school baseball, softball, track and tennis teams.

Many teams have had few opportunities to get outside thanks to a prolonged blast of winter weather that has brought rain, snow and wind to Western Pennsylvania.

In short, the weather has caused a season's worth of problems.

“It's tough, because there are so many elements involved,” said Connellsville athletic director Jim Lembo, noting altering transportation schedules and coordinating make-up dates with other schools can be challenging.

Lembo said that when the weather does improve, another problem will arise.

“When we first put our schedules together, baseball goes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and softball plays on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays,” Lembo said. “When the schedule gets juggled around, it puts a strain on the officials because when there is a nice day, everybody is going to want to play. Then, are there enough officials?

“If this continues, the exhibition schedules are going to be wiped out, and we'll be going straight into section games. It's like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, and it's going to be difficult. But it is what it is, and you do the best you can.”

Because of poor conditions, many teams have been forced to try to stage practices inside. This can be especially difficult for track teams, which need large areas to work on certain events.

Southmoreland track coach Chuck Brittain acknowledged that the weather has had a negative impact on his program because the athletes can't be outside enjoying the sport.

“Our numbers are down a little bit because the weather is discouraging,” Brittain said as he watched members of his girls track team stretch and do some light running in the hallways at Southmoreland High School.

Geibel baseball coach Pete Nace is trying to make the most of the poor weather. He has tried a couple of times to get his players outside, but the results haven't been good.

“We were up on the field two days, and the kids came back wind-burnt,” Nace said. “On Saturday, we were able to get our field turned over and it looked wonderful, but now we just can't get on it.

“Everybody is anxious to get outside, and we're combatting that by trying to do different drills (in the gym). We were able to fix our pitching machine, so we have that working for us now. We are all going through this together, and I think the kids are keeping more of a positive attitude than the adults, as kids usually do.”

But make no mistake, the athletes have grown weary of being confined indoors.

“We're getting tired of being in the gym,” Frazier girls softball pitcher Andrea Lash said. “We play with softies (cushioned softballs), and they bounce around in the gym uncontrollably. We don't get the regular bounces like you get on dirt. I just want to get outside and get some wins.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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