Tonawanda News

Local Sports

April 6, 2011

Weather postpones season for now

— — Local baseball and softball players have developed a bit of cabin fever over the last week or so, as cold and rainy weather has them itching to get outdoors.

The recent weather forecast has not only forced teams to stay indoors, but also has resulted in nearly two weeks worth of games postponed to open the season.

Although local meteorologists have predicted fairly warmer temperatures and spotty showers for the upcoming weekend, it is still unknown whether or not local fields will be able to host games without suffering severe damage.

North Tonawanda softball coach Larry Lash, who’s in his 35th season as a head varsity coach, said it’s tough to get a feel for the game indoors.

“Experience says that you need to be on the dirt,” said Lash, the former longtime Wilson coach. “You need to see more live pitching and get out where the sun is instead of inside dark gyms. You need to hit real balls instead of soft balls.”

Lash added that a late spring has certainly happened before. He recalls one season when he was at Wilson when the season began on April 17, noting that he marked in his score book that it was the first time his team played outside on the diamond.

“It’s the strategy that hurts,” he said. “The outfield relays, the things that you can only get on a diamond where there’s a lot of room. But we’re all in the same position.”

Lash said that most schools haven’t even had the chance to get started treating their fields for the season due to the late winter and the wet start to the spring.

“(Fields) didn’t even get initial drying or time to defrost,” he said. “To say we’re behind is an understatement.”

Lash added that teams that return experience are certainly in better shape than those that don’t.

“We’re all frustrated but we’re in the same boat as everybody else. We’re all chomping at the bit to get outside, but the weather is holding us back,” Tonawanda baseball coach John Frank said. “But you have to be ready. The first time you get on that field is probably going to be your first game, so we have to be ready for the test. And we’ve been studying hard.”

A non-league contest between Tonawanda and Kenmore East scheduled for today is among the many games postponed to a later date.

“It stinks knowing that we can’t do anything about it,” Tonawanda’s Steve Stich said. “All we can do is take ground balls on the wood floors ... and hitting in the cage.”

North Tonawanda coach Tony Ruffolo is eager to get a bit of fresh air following a year off from coaching.

Ruffolo shares much of the same frustration with the local players and coaches.

“We’re probably one of the only teams that haven’t even been in a parking lot yet,” he said at practice Monday. “We haven’t yet thrown a ball outside. I can’t wait to get outside and actually play a game. Chances are it’s going to be the first time we get outside. It’s going to be up in the air for everyone. It is what it is.”

Rain is projected for today and Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Spotty showers are forecasted to persist through the weekend and into early next week.

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