As the number of games erased by nasty weather continues to mount, it’s no surprise who is being mentioned as a notable performer this spring.
“She leads the league in wins,” Omaha North coach Mike Greene-Walsh said, “easily dominating the competition with a good mixture of four pitches — cold, rain, wind and snow.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
Having covered the high school beat since 2000, I can’t remember a more disrupted spring. Games are being canceled at an alarming rate, and the cancellation of three major conference tournaments — the Metro, the Eastern Midlands and the River Cities — wiped out 33 games in one swoop.
“It’s never been this bad,” longtime Millard West coach Frank Ryan said. “It’s this late in the season and we haven’t had one full practice on our field.”
Even when the games are played, the conditions have been less than ideal. Props to the hearty fans who endured the cold, windy conditions at the three games I covered last week — Norris vs. Elkhorn South on Monday night, Omaha Skutt vs. Omaha Gross on Tuesday night and Millard West vs. Papillion-La Vista South on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s been hard to maintain momentum from week to week,” Titans coach Bill Lynam said. “It’s tough to practice inside all the time but that’s what a lot of us have had to do.”
Lynam, wearing a heavy sweatshirt and stocking cap, didn’t look like your typical third-base coach Saturday. But the cold probably didn’t seem so bad after his top-ranked Papio South squad rallied for a 4-3, nine-inning win over the Wildcats.
It’s hard to believe that the season is already winding down. Tuesday’s games will be the last ones counted toward district seeding, and the district pairings will be announced Thursday.
“It has not been a pleasant spring,” Nebraska School Activities Association assistant director Jim Angele said. “I’ve been the baseball guy for 14 years here and I’ve never seen the weather so consistently bad, week in and week out.”
One thing already is apparent — teams who reach the state tournament that begins May 11 will have played substantially fewer games than last year. All eight Class A tourney teams had played at least 29 games in 2012, and that’s just not going to happen this season.
Like Lynam, Angele said the nasty weather has been a real momentum killer.
“It’s hard to get into a rhythm when you have to keep going inside to practice,” he said. “I can sense the frustration but there’s nothing we can do.”
Among those frustrated coaches is Gross skipper Mike Filipowicz, in his 24th season as the Cougars’ head coach.
“I remember it being pretty bad like this once in the mid-90s,” he said. “But to have played this few games (eight) this late in the season is crazy.”
Other Class B teams are in worse shape than the Cougars. Arlington and South Sioux City have played just five games each, and their schedules on the NSAA website are dominated by the big red letters “postponed” or “canceled.”
Angele said the season can’t be pushed back for two reasons. Dates are reserved at the primary state tourney facilities — Werner Park and Haymarket Park — and the American Legion season always begins shortly after the varsity season.
“I think everyone just wishes that it would warm up for the kids,” Angele said. “Hopefully the weather breaks and we can get in a lot of games before districts.”
Unless, of course, Mother Nature has other ideas.
Ratings update: The top three teams in the Nebraska Top 10 — Papio South, Millard West and Omaha Westside — remain the same. Defending Class A champion Omaha Creighton Prep climbs to No. 4 and Millard North moves up from 10th to fifth.
New to the Top 10 this week is Class B No. 1 Norris. The Titans defeated Class A No. 6 Omaha Burke and would have climbed higher if not for a 5-2 loss against unranked Omaha Central.
Waverly and Gretna move into the Class B ratings this week. The Vikings defeated previously unbeaten Lincoln Pius X last week while the Dragons rattled off wins over Bennington, Beatrice and Elkhorn South.
Top games this week:
Class A — Monday: Lincoln North Star vs. Lincoln Pius X (at Densmore), 5. Tuesday: Omaha Creighton Prep vs. Omaha Westside (at Werner Park), 4; Bellevue West at Papillion-La Vista South, 5; Papillion-La Vista at Millard North, 5; Millard South vs. Millard West (at Werner Park), 6:30. Wednesday: Bellevue West vs. Omaha Gross (at Werner Park), 4; Papillion-La Vista vs. Papillion-La Vista South (at Werner Park), 6:30. Thursday-Saturday: Don Kraft Invitational (at Millard South). Friday-Saturday: Bellevue West Invitational.
Class B — Monday: Elkhorn South at Wahoo, 7. Tuesday: Lincoln Pius X at Omaha Roncalli, 5. Elkhorn at Omaha Gross, 5. Thursday: Omaha Gross at Lincoln Pius X (at Den Hartog), 5. Friday: Norris at Waverly, 4:30. Thursday-Friday: Ralston Invitational (at Orval Smith). Saturday: Omaha Gross at Omaha Roncalli, noon.
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