FORT WAYNE – The SAC baseball coaches gathered at Parkview Field for their annual preseason meeting Monday jealous of the respectable condition of the playing surface at the TinCaps’ home. Many of them were even trying – in jest – to get some extra practice time on the diamond.
The baseball coaches, along with spring coaches around the area and the state, have been dealing with the effects one snowiest winters in Indiana history has had on their fields.
Baseball practices have been spent mainly indoors, competing with the other spring sports and some winter sports for the use of the facilities, or in school parking lots.
It is has definitely been a challenge, Northrop coach Matt Brumbaugh said. By this time (of the year) you are usually out on the field. We have just not got that many days where it has been good weather. Talking to other coaches, they are just trying to get things done. It has been difficult.
Coaches and players have been spending equal time getting ready for the season, while also trying to get their fields prepared. Northrop opens the season April 1 at home against New Haven.
You are trying to balance getting your team ready and working on the field, said Brumbaugh, whose Bruins were picked by the league coaches to repeat their SAC title. They come ready to work every day, whether it is playing the game or whether it is working on the field.
Maybe the only saving grace for the league’s coaches is they aren’t alone.
You have to find space to practice, but you have faith that everybody is in the same boat, said Snider coach Marc Skelton, whose team was picked to finish second in the conference. You do what you can where you can and hope for the best. Where it has put us the most behind is our pitchers. We have had trouble finding places for them to throw indoors, and you don’t want them throwing outside when it is cold.
Most coaches have also had to deal with an extended school day as well, with an extra hour added on until next month to make up for lost school days because of the weather. It has also pushed the start time for most games back an hour.
As an old-timer, I am tired, said Skelton, who teaches eighth-grade science at Blackhawk Middle School. But you also notice it with the kids. That’s why we try to give them an hour between the end of school until the start of practice so they can go home for a little while.