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Making the Most of Rainy Days

Gresham (Oregon) High School softball coach Dave Anderson walked across campus to check on his softball field only to be disappointed at the prospect of another day inside — and it turned out that someone else was already busy using the field. 

“There were a pair of ducks floating on our infield — from the back stop to the pitching rubber was underwater,” he said.

The Centennial High baseball team took the bus ride west to face Sunset on the Hillsboro Hops turf field. The Apollos got through their warm-ups, and the Eagles were wrapping up their outfield work when a field official shooed everyone away.

It was too wet, even for the turf.

“We ended up heading over to C.J.’s Pizza and at least gave the kids a chance to hang out and have fun just being together,” Centennial coach Kevin Christie said. “You have to get creative and provide as much variety as possible — mix in some fun.”

While some schools are able to escape to indoor facilities, action is still limited to swinging the bat and making the most basic of throws. Other teams will find time on their school’s turf football field, drawing up impromptu diamonds and tossing around wet balls.

This all puts a premium on gym space where teams have to get in line to schedule a practice time.

“It’s a grind, and we don’t have any turf on campus, so it’s a logjam trying to get time in the gym, which we are sharing with tennis, dance, softball, and even basketball there for a couple weeks — the space fills up quickly,” Christie said.

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Gym time is similar to being in the batting cages where drills can become monotonous. There are only so many ways to play catch.

Coaches are constantly looking for ways to break the humdrum atmosphere of being trapped inside.

For the Corbett High baseball team, that comes in the form of target practice. Players line up cans at various spots in the gym, anything from a soda can to a coffee container, and take turns trying to knock them down. The smaller the target, the more points awarded, while other days it’s all about hitting the most consecutive targets.

The Cardinals are also known to put together games of wiffle ball.

It still teaches the game, you’re still learning to communicate,” Cardinals’ coach Josh Delafield said. “Plus, you see a lot of different pitches — the ball really moves.”

It’s not uncommon for members of the Gresham softball team to put the bats and gloves aside and break out a game of old-fashioned dodge ball.

“It really pushes coaches — we’re always learning new drills — just looking for way to mix in some fun and break up the monotony.”

Centennial High’s softball team made the most of its two hours after school, waiting for the gym to open for practice. Girls across all of the teams would gather in the hallways for a study hall.

“It’s been a positive thing that has brought all 40 of our girls together to build unity,” Eagles coach Steve Baker said. “It’s one of those things where you get what you put into it." 

The other aspect of the rain is field maintenance, so when the sunshine does appear the field is in playing condition.

“One of the biggest issues for us in our infield grass — it’s looks like a driving range — every ground ball takes a divot,” Gresham baseball coach Ryan Miller said.

Many teams each year are heading to sunnier destinations over spring break with trips to Arizona and Florida. In the meantime, coaches are making due with what Mother Nature allows.

“The reality is that everyone else is in the same situation, so we need to do the best job we can getting better and making use of our time, because I guarantee someone, somewhere else is finding a way to get it done,” Baker said.

From GameChanger and David Ball.

Baseball, Softball, Baseball Tips & Drills, Softball Tips & Drills