Washed away

Wet weather wreaks havoc on spring sports
Matt DeYoung
Apr 13, 2013

The miserable weather that has plagued West Michigan over the past several weeks has claimed several more casualties.

Today’s busy slate of athletic events — including the Big Buc baseball and softball invitationals at Grand Haven and the Lakeshore Grand Slam softball tournament, hosted by Spring Lake, have been called off.

The reason isn’t the cold, but instead the rain that has drenched athletic fields, leaving huge puddles and making play on these fields impossible.

Lakers’ varsity softball coach Bill Core said that after Friday’s league game at Grant and today’s Grand Slam Tournament were called off, his team has no had its first 10 games of the season canceled.

It’s not much better for other sports.

While soccer and lacrosse teams have managed to get out and play, golfers have had a terrible time trying to get out onto the course.

“We finally had our first outdoor practice today,” Trojans’ golf coach Jim McGannon said on Friday.

And that practice didn’t come without mishap.

“The range was closed, so I got approval to go over there, and they left some buckets of balls out for us,” McGannon said. “When we got there, the balls had all been hit, so we had to go out on the soaking wet range and pick up balls before we could hit them.”

Lakers’ golf coach George Bitner said his team made it out to the range a few times, but hasn’t been able to get out on the course and actually play. Today was supposed to be one of the bigger tournaments of the year for area golf teams — the Ludington Invitational — but that event had already been called off as of Thursday.

“They’re not even going to try it,” Bitner said. “There’s a meet at Kenowa Hills that hasn’t been canceled yet, but it’s probably going to be a zoo. They have 36 holes, and they’ll play the 18 holes on the highest ground.”

Track and field teams have been stuck practicing indoors, and all meets to date have been canceled.

Even soccer teams have had a hard time getting outside, although Grand Haven has the luxury of playing on a turf field, which drains exceptionally well and isn’t affected by heavy use in wet weather.

Playing games on grass fields, on the other hand, risks doing irreparable damage to the field.

Lakers’ soccer coach Jeremy Thelen was thrilled to get a game in on Thursday — a victory at Holland Christian. Earlier in the week, the Lakers drove to Holland and sat through two hours of lightning delays before turning around and coming home.

“We’ve lost three games already to the weather,” Thelen said before Thursday’s game.

Fruitport is just putting the finishing touches on significant improvements to its baseball and softball diamonds. Unfortunately, the Trojans haven’t had much of a chance to take advantage of their new facilities.

“It’s been tough, because our field has been totally redone, and it looks beautiful, but we’ve had to stay off it,” coach Nick Reed said. “The couple nicer days we’ve had, they’ve had some finishing work to do to it.”

All the cancelations and postponements are going to result in a hectic several weeks once the weather finally decides to cooperate. The spring sports season is already a short one. Fall sports typically run for around 10 weeks from late August to early November and winter sports last even longer, with basketball season alone spanning a 15-week stretch from early December to late March.

The meat of the spring sports season lasts just eight weeks, from the end of Spring Break in early April until most sports wrap up on the first Saturday in June. With some teams still waiting to see their first action of the spring, that schedule is condensed even more.

“Next week, we have matches Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and the weather doesn’t look much better then,” Bitner said.

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