Nothing is ever guaranteed at the start of softball season in the Midwest, but at least a few games usually get played before the calendar turns to April.
The unseasonably cold weather and recent snow has postponed almost all area games so far, but there is finally hope on the horizon.
St. Charles East has lost its first three games of the season due to snow or cold but has hopes of playing doubleheaders on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The forecasted 45-degree temps for Thursday will feel downright balmy as East hopes to take the field for the first time against Wheaton Warrenville South.
The Saints return seniors Olivia Lorenzini and Lexi Perez in a lineup that coach Kelly Horan can’t wait to unleash.
“We’re really lefty heavy this year with potentially five to six in the lineup at any given time,” Horan said. “We have a nice mix of bunters/slappers and power hitters from the left side. I’m excited to see what we can do once we get going.”
Like most other teams, East has limited space, which means there’s only so much you can work on indoors.
“We’ve been prepping the same as we normally would. There are certain things you can’t do like fly balls, but we’ve been getting a lot of reps otherwise,” Horan said. “The girls are about stir crazy not getting outside, but they’re doing a good job at preparing for each practice.”
Indoor musical chairs
The East and North softball teams share space at East, meaning the Saints’ practices have been pushed back to accommodate the North Stars.
Many of the Saints’ early season practices have ended at 9 p.m., leaving East yearning for the usual after school drill that they’ll soon grow accustomed to.
North coach Tom Poulin has never seen early spring weather like this in his years of coaching. It’s been an adjustment to say the least.
“Last year was the complete opposite so that’s why we scheduled early this year,” Poulin said. “We got outside last Saturday but we were even pretty limited then. At some point, we’re just going to have to go outside and brave the elements together.”
We have a situation
The indoor practices have allowed teams to focus more on game situations, like bunt coverages and first-and-third defense.
Coaches of course want to see their teams get a few games in, but getting extra time to work on game situations certainly doesn’t hurt – especially when it will come in to use in the near future.
– Ian Matthews, firstname.lastname@example.org
What We Learned From Last Week
Teams have been struggling just to get outside, let alone take the field for a game.
The added indoor time has allowed coaches to watch a lot more hitter/pitcher battles in the batting cage, ensuring reps for both parties.
What We’ll Learn In the Week Ahead
Hopefully a lot.
Nearly all of the Chronicle area teams have a game on the calendar this week.
St. Charles North scheduled a last-minute contest with Montini at the new Rosemont Dome. East has games slated for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The one area team that is almost assured games is St. Francis, which went to Orlando for spring break.
The Spartans already dispatched a team from Pennsylvania, with a few more games on tap this week.
In the Groove
The big southpaw has had area teams flailing at an array of cold and snow, pitching a few weeks’ worth of shutouts thus far. As is the case with most seasons, it usually takes the hitters a few weeks to catch up. Look for the streak to finally be broken this week.
By now, seniors have been through the grind of early-season softball a few times. At this point, coaches are leaning on their upperclassmen to rally the troops in hopes of being as prepared as possible for the eventual start of the season.
Coach Sly Says
Last Sly checked, teams don’t keep stats in the batting cage.
At this rate, Sly is going to have to pull out the old scorebook and start keeping score of practice game battles.
Thankfully, the weather looks like it will finally break by the end of the week that will allow Sly to finally set up the lawn chair and take in some games. Pitchers have had plenty of time to prepare, so Sly hopes the back-log of games won’t be too much on the area pitching staffs.