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Playing the waiting game

Jordan Ketter attempts to twist a double play under the warm sun of the 2012 spring. Photo by Brian Basham/Record

There is one thing very prevalent when looking at Detroit Lakes activity director Mitch McLeod’s planner for the month of April – all the red circles.

“Those signify all the games which we either cancelled or postponed,” McLeod said. “There are a lot of red circles.”

In fact, all but two indoor track meets and one tennis meet, which was held indoors, have been lost through April 21.

And expect more red circles this coming week as the snow stubbornly still sits on the ground, while temperatures hover near or just over the freezing point.

For Frazee activity director and head softball coach Dave Trautman, he has never seen this late of a start to the spring season in all his years in high school sports.

Laker Lindsey Heinecke

“This is certainly unique,” Trautman said. “We’ve had snow before during April, but it’s usually gone quick. This is the first time I’ve seen it last this long.”

Out of the 20 Frazee softball games, 13 have been either cancelled or postponed. For the Hornet baseball squad, they’ve lost eight, which most could potentially be made up if the weather starts cooperating.

“If we don’t get out this coming week, we will have only a three-week season,” Trautman said. “As of now, we are not rescheduling anything until teams can get outside to play.

“It will be a sitting and waiting game until then.”

Spring sports always is a season which gets interfered with by weather.

But this year, it’s been extra, extra interfering. Not only games have been cancelled or postponed; teams can’t even get outside to practice.

“During the spring season, changes occur because of the weather,” McLeod said. “We have a lot of postponements during a regular spring season, but this year, we are pushing a four-week schedule.”

There have been some efforts to get the spring teams some live competition, as the Laker boys’ and girls’ track teams have participated in three indoor meets at Concordia College in Moorhead and Bemidji State University.

The DL baseball team will face Mid-State Conference foe Staples-Motley inside the Metrodome Monday, starting at noon for a doubleheader.

The games were organized by Laker assistant coach Terry Eiter.

Costs incurred by the trip to Minneapolis will be paid by the DL Youth Baseball Association and the Staples-Motley Diamond Club, which both are independent from the school districts.

Each organization will be paying $1,000 for the Lakers and Cardinals to play their conference doubleheader under the Teflon.

Which brings the conflict of potentially sending teams to southern Minnesota to get in games or meets on the dime of the school district.

It probably won’t happen.

“All the programs are on a budget and there isn’t anything we can do about the weather,” McLeod said. “We won’t be sending our teams to travel to southern Minnesota because of the cost factor.

“But if we continue to lose games, we will make our conference games a priority and will have to cancel the rest.”

The Minnesota State High School League sent out an e-mail to all school districts making suggestions on how to help with a shortened season.

Playing shorter doubleheaders in the form of five-inning games for baseball and softball was suggested, along with playing nine-hole tournaments in golf, while adding more teams per meet was also an idea.

Tennis matches can utilize adjusted scoring for the third set and use the “Super Tie-breaker” format.                

The month of May will have a compressed schedule which could include up to four or five games a week for softball and baseball, while Saturdays will be utilized as much as they can.

“The MSHSL also approved to allow one umpire to call games, since there will be a shortage of them with all the games which are being pushed back,” Trautman said.

For golf, meets can be added during the week, but McLeod added the student/athletes have a limit of how much school they can miss.

“One problem is the golf courses will set their own schedule, so that will be an obstacle,” McLeod said. “Also, we can’t allow kids to miss school. Students cannot miss five significant school days (over half a day) in a three-week period.”

Fortunately for each of the Laker boys’ and girls’ golf teams, they are deep enough to send split squads to meets, which range from Fargo to Minneapolis.

Another change in schedules is where they will be played. Even if a home game is scheduled for a team, they can travel to their opponents’ home field if it is ready and theirs is not.

“We can certainly reverse sites if we have to,” Trautman said.

As for the forecast, fields, courses and track sites need much sun and less precipitation.

“I was hoping to start our games April 29 or 30, but that looks like a 50-50 proposition now,” Trautman said.

The scramble will be on once the field of play is a go, but it will be better than more red circles appearing on an activity director’s game planner.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN. 
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