THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo
When infielders on the Perrysburg High School girls softball team take the field in Columbus today, it will be the first time this year without a gym ceiling above them.
Only once so far this spring has the team been able to go outside for practice, and that was only in the outfield, because the school’s infield was in poor condition thanks to the severe winter.
Perrysburg’s baseball team has only been outdoors twice, and plays — at least, is scheduled to play — at Lake High School on Tuesday.
Three scrimmages were canceled last week for the softball team, which opens its season today at Columbus De Sales. The boys were able to fit two practice games in on Thursday and Friday.
“It is the trickle-down effect from the record-breaking winter,” softball coach Ryan DeMars said last week. “Monday is our first game, and it might be the first time we’re touching bases.”
The baseball team’s scrimmages marked the first time they practiced outside. Coach Dave Hall said Friday he thought it would be an additional 10 days until Perrysburg’s baseball field is ready for games, because the ground has not thawed.
“It gets tedious when you are in a gym for over three weeks,” senior Mark Delas said. He said he was excited to see some live pitching after hitting off tees and underhand pitching in the gym for weeks.
Even though the softball team plans to start four sophomores and a freshman, Coach DeMars said the inability to practice outdoors won’t be an excuse for his team early on.
So far they have been doing live batting practice indoors, and fielding in the gym — where they can fit the full infield, and either right or left field.
“It is not an excuse, these girls have been playing softball for a long time,” Coach DeMars said. “They have 200-plus games of fast pitch under their belt.”
Still, fielding fly balls in the gym doesn’t help outfielders with wind and height effects during real games. And the gym floor always give a true bounce on grounders, unlike dirt infields.
Coach Hall said to try to simulate gamelike fly balls without being able to take the field, players usually use the high school’s parking lot. But large, melting snow piles made conditions too wet even there.
“Typically we are on the field four or five times by now,” he said. “This is the worst I’ve seen in 36 years.”