Prep sports

Area teams battle weather, bad field conditions and sharing gym time

2014-03-13T18:00:00Z 2014-03-14T01:46:08Z Area teams battle weather, bad field conditions and sharing gym timeMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
March 13, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

Monday is the first official day teams can play a baseball game, but don't count on it.

Defending Class 4A state champion Mount Carmel is scheduled to host Lake View at Haggerty Field, but Caravan coach Brian Hurry said that game is canceled.

"We are renting Chicago State's all-turf baseball field later this month to try and play," Hurry said.

Across the Chicagoland area, teams are scrambling for indoor space, sharing it with various teams at different levels.

At Homewood-Flossmoor, water covered a good part of the skin part of the Vikings' baseball diamond.

However, the Vikings were still able to practice on a field as the baseball, softball and girls soccer teams can practice on a 35-yard indoor turf football field.

The field has bases 90 feet apart for baseball, 60 feet apart for softball plus it has base lines.

"This has just been great, though we would like to be outdoors," junior catcher Jesse Forestell said. "You can't simulate too well on a gym (wooden) floor. Here, you get a true bounce with the ball.

"As a catcher, when a pitch goes into the ground, you get a good bounce up instead of hitting the wood and it can go anywhere."

H-F baseball coach Todd Sippel said his team is benefiting from the facility.

"We have a high enough roof where our outfielders can catch fly balls, we can work on situations on (synthetic) grass and be in game-like situations," Sippel said. "We can have up to four batting cages where we had one when we in the gym.

"The kids like it."

The team rotate practice times as Monday, soccer went after school and baseball at 6 p.m. On Tuesday and Wednesday, baseball went before school.

"In the 'seat box,' that is what we called the little gym, it was cramped where here, there is a lot of room," Forestell said. "A big difference. We love it and love coming to practice."

Area athletic directors have not made calls on early games yet, but most said they may have to postpone games, especially with the snow that came down Tuesday night and Wednesday. That is on top of the brutal winter which postponed several athletic contests.

"We don't like to cancel too early, because we want our teams to get the games in," T.F. South athletic director Marc Brewe said. "Sometimes, the fields are not playable."

At South on Monday, the two gyms and hall that connects them was a cacophony of sounds. One could hear the "whoosh" as the defending state champion badminton team practiced. As it exited, the baseball team took to the gym floor, while outfielders went to the parking lot.

Tennis balls bounced off walls, while boys and girls track teams ran the halls. The softball team was in the old gym warming up. The softball field was covered in show, but is also getting new dugouts, field grading and new fences, according to Brewe. The weather did push back the project's start until Monday.

"We are looking forward to our new field and it should be ready for the season," T.F. South softball coach Jamie Arundel said. "As for indoors, you have to mix it up so it doesn't get redundant.

"You can work on strategies, go over situations and do some hitting, but it is not the same as being outside."

Outside, Tre'sean Hall and Steven Stubitsch played catch and shagged flies in the parking lot.

"It is a lot better because you really can't do fly balls inside because of the (low) roof," Hall said. "We are just happy to be outside."

Stubitsch said the same.

"You can only do so much in a gym," Stubitsch said. "We can't wait to get on our field."

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