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Staying Loose is Key During a Rain Delay

https://flic.kr/p/eJroMS - The Season - GameChanger - rain delay

Welp, good season, fellas.

The Sheldon High School coach might never admit it now, but that thought had to be floating somewhere under Stan Manley’s gray and forest green, “S”-adorned flatbill after his squad fell behind 8-1 early in its Oregon Class 6A state semifinal clash. This was one of those games that seems over before it even begins.

Until they aren’t.

In the third frame, a pair of Sheldon runners reached second and third. With one out, the sky broke open. Players headed to their respective dugouts and stayed there for more than half an hour.

Less than a third of an inch of rain fell on Clackamas, Ore., that day, but it was enough to halt play for roughly 35 minutes. When the game resumed, Clackamas High School’s pitcher wasn’t his usual shutdown self, and he and his teammates could do little more than watch as, inning by inning, their lead dwindled. 

The comeback required one extra inning. Sheldon won 11-10 and went on to claim its second title in three seasons atop Oregon’s largest classification. 

“The rain was a good deal for us,” Manley said, “that particular day.”

Precipitation-related delays and postponements, of course, are just part of the game in northern states. Teams’ final schedules and results rarely resemble their original form when first announced before the season, and mental preparation includes entertaining the possibility that a contest either won’t happen that day or will be rudely interrupted.

Pitchers' Fielding Practice - Read It Now

When it comes to in-game delays, Manley says, the biggest key is “keeping kids loose.”

“We try to make sure they’re not lethargic,” said the skipper, who’s coached in the past three 6A championship games. “That way, once the tarp is pulled off the field and they see we can play again, they’re ready to go back out there.

“I let them do a lot of joking around.”

When they’re not tending to their home field — rolling the tarp, firming up the base paths, etc. — Sheldon’s players can be seen wearing their uniforms upside down and performing skits in their dugouts waiting for a storm to pass.

“One of the things that I do, and I’m sure most coaches do, is say, ‘Just remember, guys, let’s control the things we can control,’” Manley said. “Unfortunately, you can’t control the weather.”

That can make for some scheduling headaches, too. It’s incumbent upon coaches and athletic administrators at all levels to practice flexibility and keep make-up dates open in the inevitable case of inclement weather.

For his part, Manley’s navigated the waters admirably during two separate stints at Sheldon, totaling 14 years at the Eugene school. He recently announced his resignation to take an assistant’s job at Linfield (Ore.) College.

And you can bet he’ll be dealing with more nature-related conundrums.

From GameChanger and Phil Ervin, a freelance reporter for Red Line Editorial, Inc.