STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Bryson Huwar sat in the dugout and watched the rain pelt the baseball field.
It’s been a rough spring for baseball and softball teams in the area with cold, rain — and sometimes even snow — wreaking havoc with schedules and scuttling games at a high rate.
Clarion-Limestone and its senior pitcher has been hit harder than most.
The Lions have yet to play a game this season. Game after game has been postponed. They’ve been outside for practice or a scrimmage just three times in five weeks.
“It’s super frustrating,” said Huwar, a right-hander who is looking forward to a big final season on the diamond. “I sat at the field ‘till after 5:30, after everyone left. I can’t stand watching everyone else play and we’re not.”
Clarion-Limestone head baseball coach Todd Smith is also feeling the burden of a schedule in tatters.
The Lions were all set to host North Clarion Monday. Crews worked on the field for hours to make it playable. After all that work, they had it ready to go in time for the 4:15 p.m. first pitch.
Then the rains came.
All that toil for naught.
“It was already right on the edge of whether you could play or not — it was pretty muddy,” Smith said. “We said if it rains at all, we’re done, and then, of course, it started raining. Everyone’s doing everything they can to try to get games in. It’s just not working out, especially not for us.”
To make matters worse, C-L players were finally in full uniform and in the dugout when the game was called.
“I told the guys, ‘Hey, we’re getting close,’” Smith joked. “We got our uniforms on today, guys. We got into our dugout. We’re getting there.”
Clarion-Limestone is by no means the only team struggling with the poor weather in 2022.
The Lions’ would-be opponent on another gloomy day, North Clarion, hasn’t had much luck, either. The Wolves have played one game this season.
It’s a common refrain.
Even teams with turf fields are struggling.
The Moniteau at Karns City softball game was postponed because of rain Monday night.
Karns City has played all five of its games this season at home, which happens to be on its turf football field. It’s one of the most unique configurations in the state and it was prompted because of another poor weather spring several years ago.
Since coming back north from a trip to Myrtle Beach, Moniteau has played one game — against Union at Heindl Field in DuBois, which is an artificial surface.
“We played Union because we went to DuBois,” Rottman said. “The game started at about 8 o’clock because there was two games ahead of us.”
Turf fields are scarce and time slots there are filling up fast.
Pullman Park in Butler is home to both the Karns City and Moniteau baseball teams. Karns City has squeezed in four games at the park; Moniteau two. The two teams played between the deluges Monday afternoon there.
Teams without access to turf fields, or without games scheduled against teams that play on artificial infield grass, have been mostly left out in the, well, rain.
“There have been a couple of schools that have been aggressive booking some games in turf fields,” Smith said. “We’ve tried. Brad Frazier, our athletic director, has tried every avenue that he can.”
Softball has also been difficult, unless teams have been able to get onto the one true turf softball field around at DuBois.
A-C Valley has played once. Keystone twice — and one of those games was at Karns City.
At this point of the season, teams typically have at least a half-dozen games under their belt.
“Usually by this time of the year, you’ve played a few teams that your opponents have played, so you’re trying to gauge how this team is based on some of the opponents you’ve played. We haven’t seen that yet.”
The rest of this week doesn’t look promising. More rain is in the forecast through Thursday.
It also makes indoor practices a challenge.
“You can only do so much in a gym,” Smith said. “The guys are getting antsy.”
So Smith decided to mix things up. He’s shortened practice times and gave his players a day off here in there to break up the monotony.
The weather has forced coaches like Smith to get creative.
“We have hitting competitions. And we actually have a game I found online,” Smith said. “We use a tennis racket and a tennis ball and we set up a baseball diamond in the gym, but they hit with a tennis racket. They use their gloves and it’s like a regular baseball game. They like it and they get pretty competitive with it.”
Rottman does something similar during his indoor softball practices.
“It’s challenging to keep things fresh,” Rottman said. “We have different games that we play in the gym that still has a purpose as far as the work you’re getting in. We make drills competitive, which helps keep spirits up a little bit.”
Nothing, though, is a substitute for real, live games.
The always volatile Western Pennsylvania weather just needs to get out of the way.
“I’d play on Sundays,” Huwar said. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”