County's athletic scene gets rained on

Accumulation of makeups puts pressure on schools


High Schools

April 10, 2003|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

While the recent rains may be doing wonders for area reservoirs, they have also caused a torrent of cancellations on Carroll County's athletic schedule.

With yesterday's downpours washing out yet another day of games, many coaches and athletic directors are facing the prospect of squeezing an ever-growing number of makeups into a continually shrinking number of days.

"It's not the best of times," said Francis Scott Key softball coach Joe Linthicum, whose team suffered its third rainout of the young season yesterday.

The biggest problem is what to do with what has become a mountain of rainouts. Because all regular-season lacrosse games must by completed by May 7, and baseball and softball games by May 8, many teams likely will be forced into four-game weeks.

Century athletic director Craig Walker said that he has reached the point where he must consider canceling some postponed games altogether.

"One of my concerns is the kids," Walker said. "You look at some of the lacrosse players. It's a lot to be putting on them to ask them to play three times a week and at the same time completing all their studies and getting their schoolwork done. It's very hard to try and get all that done."

As is it for athletic directors to pull off the juggling act of coordinating the open dates, transportation and officials necessary to even make the games possible.

Walker, however, maintains that he won't schedule games over a four-day period next week, from the first night of Passover on Wednesday through Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter.

"I've always preached to the kids and coaches that family comes first ... so I have not even looked at those days," Walker said. "Every time it rains, you just feel like you're being constricted by another day, really compressing a lot of the contests into a shorter amount of time."

For area baseball teams, especially, that means an extra challenge.

"Right now, we're probably looking at some four-game weeks, which puts the pressure on the pitching," North Carroll baseball coach Denny Snyder said. "The closer you can stay to a [regular] schedule helps your pitching out, since your Nos. 1 and 2 pitchers get extra starts. The more four-game weeks you have, the more you're going to have to use six, seven, possibly eight, pitchers in some weeks."

Snyder said that his team has lately spent most of its time in a gymnasium, simply trying to stay sharp.

"We've just been trying to find any place we can to play," Snyder said. "It's a totally different ballgame playing baseball in the gym, but the way I look at it right now, everybody is in the same boat. There's no sense in complaining about it. You simply can't fight Mother Nature."

Century's softball team certainly knows the feeling.

Because the Knights' softball field sits on one of the lowest points of the school's property, it tends to collect water, and currently looks more like a mud pit. The team already has had to play two games at a recreation field behind South Carroll's stadium through an agreement with the Winfield Recreation Council, and moved another home game to the opposing team's field.

Though the fields might be empty now, coaches know that it may not be long before their teams' tenacity will be tested for possibly days on end.

"It's hard to keep them mentally sharp and motivated," Linthicum said. "We've been doing small things in the gym just to try and keep some kind of routine and regimen going. As a coach, you want to get your kids mentally ready to play a team. Then all of the sudden the field is too wet and you've got to wait until the next day."

Or perhaps the day after.

Taking on the competition

No one can accuse Brooke Kuhl-McClelland of ducking the competition.

The Mount Hebron girls lacrosse coach invited two nationally ranked teams to the team's seventh annual tournament, which takes place Saturday.

The Vikings (5-0), who are ranked No. 1 by The Sun and share top honors with Moorestown (N.J.) in the US Lacrosse poll, will meet Great Valley (Pa.) - ranked 11th by US Lacrosse - in a semifinal at 10 a.m.

In the other semifinal, Shawnee (N.J.), No. 13 by US Lacrosse, will take on St. Paul's at 11:30 a.m.

The consolation starts at 1:30 p.m., and the championship should begin 90 minutes later.

Kuhl-McClelland said she tried to schedule games against Moorestown (N.J.) and perennial powerhouse St. Stephen's/St. Agnes (Va.), but after finding little success, secured reservations from Great Valley and Shawnee.

"I'm really excited because these are two nationally ranked teams, and I don't believe in the history of this tournament that we have had teams ranked this high," Kuhl-McClelland said. "To pit us against some of these nationally ranked teams will show us how close we are to these rankings."

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