MONTPELIER — The Montpelier High School boys’ baseball team had a home scrimmage scheduled for next week and the girls’ tennis team had a home match scheduled for Monday, but both are being pushed back because spring hasn’t really sprung yet in Vermont.
As of Friday, the pitcher’s mound wasn’t even visible on the baseball diamond and the snow was piled high on the courts.
Veteran baseball coach J.B. McCarthy said he doesn’t expect the fields to be ready before the end of the month, but tennis coach Wendy Watson is hopeful they’ll be able to play on the courts by mid-week.
“Spring sports are tough,” McCarthy said. “You’ve got to wait for the weather and then you play the season in a month.”
Schools across Vermont are accustomed to the need to let winter loosen its grip before they can get outside, be it to play baseball, softball, tennis, track, lacrosse or golf. But after a string of mild winters that saw many teams practicing outside in March, this season’s late spring is a reminder that weather rules.
McCarthy said that growing up in Montpelier he rarely got onto the fields until the middle of April.
“The last few years, though, we’ve been outside on March 25 on a dry field, and that’s what these guys are used to,” McCarthy said of his players, who have been practicing in the school’s gymnasium after school — then turning the gym over to the tennis team.
Bob Johnson of the Vermont Principals’ Association, which oversees high school sports in the state, said schools are accustomed to changing the dates for games and matches scheduled for early April, but this year is especially bad.
“Last year by the middle of March we had teams out on the fields the earliest they had ever been,” Johnson said. “The flip side is, though, the season went great and then we got to the first week in June and then we had a flood for about the next two weeks.”
McCarthy said his baseball players can throw and hit inside, although they can’t shag fly balls and taking ground balls is a bit unrealistic.
“After a while they get to be experts because the balls take a nice bounce on the floor here,” he said.
On Friday — three days before Wendy Watson’s tennis team was to host its first match — none of the courts could be seen beneath the snow. But with warm weather forecast she’s hopeful they will be ready for Wednesday.
Senior baseball player Zach Morrill said indoor practices are more difficult because it’s easy to lose the ball in the lights, but he was more interested in getting ready to play than complain about the weather.
“It’s just getting used to the different players,” he said of the spring training. “A lot of our seniors graduated last year, it’s just getting used to the new team chemistry.”