HILLARY SMITH: Spring sports need directive to contain rain catastrophes

2013-06-02T15:15:00Z 2013-06-02T18:23:04Z HILLARY SMITH: Spring sports need directive to contain rain catastrophesHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
June 02, 2013 3:15 pm  • 

If there's a single prevailing theme through high school sports this spring it has been the weather.

Weeks of games were washed out in all sports, some never to be made up thanks to rain, more rain and even some snow. 

So it came as no surprise when Mother Nature interfered in the IHSAA playoffs.

What is surprising is there's no official directive from the IHSAA, or even individual sports' coaching associations, how to best schedule the postseason for rain.

Take the two Class 4A sectionals, for instance.

Sectional 1 in Munster is a seven-team sectional scheduling three quarterfinal games, two semifinal games and a championship over five days (Wednesday, May 22 through Monday, May 27).

Munster officials opted not to play on the first day allowed by the IHSAA, initially scheduling a game on May 23, two on May 24 and three on May 27.

When rain washed out the May 23 game, adjustments were made to use May 25 as the rain-out day. The sectional was caught up by May 27, but rain that morning required more than four hours to prepare the field and the sectional semifinals and finals were squished into games that started at approximately 2:20 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.

Sectional 2 at LaPorte is an eight-team sectional scheduling four quarterfinal games, two semifinal games and a championship over the same five days.

The LaPorte officials originally scheduled two games May 22, another two May 23, semifinals May 24 and the championship on the morning of May 27. When rain washed out the May 23 games, new plans did not include games on May 25, though it was approved by the state as a built-in rain day.

Conversely, the Class 3A sectionals at Griffith and Kankakee Valley had used that Saturday as the championship day.

As weather continued to be a problem, the LaPorte Sectional finally ended May 29, including a suspended game followed immediately by the championship. 

Portage, winner of the LaPorte Sectional, met Lake Central, winner of the Munster Sectional, in the first game of the regional. Portage's pitcher had three days rest. Lake Central's entire team had five days rest, and a chance to scout its next opponent.

In basketball, the IHSAA spells out with a chart exactly on what days games in a sectional should be played, and at what times depending on how many teams are in each sectional.

In baseball, no such chart exists and the bulletin sent out by the association gives the following recommendations:

"Rain date/s – to be determined by the center school.

"It is strongly recommended that 2 days of rest precede the playing of the semifinals, if possible.

"Center principals may request approval from the IHSAA to reschedule certain games in case of conflict with graduation ceremonies, availability of facilities, etc."

The weather can't be avoided, especially as it affects areas of the state differently, and doesn't impact a basketball sectional. And, not all sectional sites have lights, so not every sectional can start games after 7 p.m.

But if a chart and directive is necessary for basketball, it should be for baseball, too, if only to keep the sectional schedules as equal and fair as possible.

This column is solely the opinion of the writer. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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