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High Schools

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    Top-ranked Andrean beat No. 3 Bishop Luers 17-15 Saturday in a 3A semistate at Luersfield as the reigning state champion 59ers earned a trip to the Class 3A state finals.
  • Snider gets sliced up
    A Snider team that had gotten to the Class 5A semistate by forcing its opponents into untimely mistakes was eliminated Friday largely thanks to its own errors.
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Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Telling sign, “Do Not Warm Up In Front Of The Dugouts!” posted above the right field dugout as snow rests in front of it Tuesday afternoon at Shoaff Park.

Weather sets spring sports adrift

Practices forced indoors, some events already postponed

– Of the three seasons for IHSAA-sanctioned sports, spring is the only one where all the games, matches and meets are outside. In the fall, volleyball is indoors, and in the winter, well, they are all inside.

So it is safe to say, the cold and snowy weather of March has had dramatic effects on the practices and games of the spring sports – baseball, softball, track, boys golf and girls tennis.

“Certainly, it puts you behind,” Snider baseball coach Marc Skelton said. “The pitchers aren’t throwing with dirt under their feet, and the batters don’t have live batting practice. You try to do that in the cage, but it just isn’t the same.”

In March, there has been around 18 inches of snow (including 4-to-6 1/2 inches Monday) dumped on the diamonds, tracks, courts and courses of northeast Indiana high schools, mainly in Fort Wayne and the southern high schools.

It has been especially tough on sports like baseball and softball that are so dependent on field conditions.

“The weather problems we had in the prior 11 years were not as bad as what we have had this year,” said veteran Homestead softball coach Tom Clagg, who said they have not been on their field even once this month. There are alternatives to practicing outside, like gyms and fieldhouses.

“Our first tennis match is not until April 9, so we haven’t had to miss a match yet,” Huntington North girls tennis coach Blake Childs said. “For practice, we are lucky that we have a fieldhouse where there are four courts inside for us to use so we have been able to practice every day that we have had school. It has been a little hard not getting outside to practice with some of the elements the girls will have to deal with during the season like wind and it being cold.”

A few area schools, such as Homestead, have artificial turf football fields. Clagg, who has practiced on the turf field, even tried to schedule a game indoors at The Plex South.

He had IHSAA permission but couldn’t get a block of time that the Engle Road venue was available.

“We schedule three games before spring break, and we have always been able to play at least one of them,” said Clagg, who has postponed games against Heritage, Concordia and Leo.

“I don’t know of anybody who has been on their diamond. It has been too wet and cold.”

And for some schools this week, and several more next week, there is spring break. A lot of teams don’t have events going on when a school is on spring break or some are lucky enough to travel to the southern parts of the state to compete.

Athletic directors are used to the rescheduling spring games, especially in the rain of April and May. But some ADs have already been busy at work.

“We all face the same things as far as weather is concerned,” Bluffton athletic director Steve Thompson said. “We have baseball and softball teams who have not been outside yet, and then we get back from spring break and play our first game on April 2 with no outside practice.

That will be a big effect on those teams.

“The gym floor with an indoor softer ball does not simulate things. Our baseball infield has to be cut at a certain height, and you can’t even get mowers on it. We can’t even get out there, obviously with 10 inches of snow. Our fields are not in game shape.”

gjones@jg.net

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