SPRING SPORTS: Coaches tired of doing rain dances (05/05)

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By Chuck Jones

By CHUCK JONES cjones@thenewsenterprise.com

HARDIN COUNTY — High school baseball and softball coaches have had their fill of wet weather this spring.

“By far, this is the worst season we’ve had with weather,” Elizabethtown softball coach Kyle Goodlett said. “Early in the spring, it was nice. We were able to get outside more than normal. But it seems like since the season began, it’s been rainy and windy about every day.”

Mark Adams, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service’s Fort Knox station, said the area hasn’t had much more rain than normal this year. The average rainfall for March is 4.2 inches and only 2.54 inches fell in March. In April, the rainfall was 3.89 inches, up slightly from the average of 3.5.

It’s not the amount of rainfall that’s been the problem, but how many days it has rained. The softball and baseball seasons kicked off March 23. Starting the following day, there were seven consecutive days of measurable precipitation, which is a rainfall of 0.01 inches and above, to close out March.

In April, there were 14 days with measurable precipitation and there were five more days with a trace of rain.

 “I don’t think its how much rain has fallen,” Adams said. “It’s just a lot of days with rain and not enough sunshine.”

The area has been hit with wet weather once again. There have been seven straight days (April 28-May 4) with a measurable precipitation, which Adams called “pretty uncommon.”

“Usually we have a day or two of rain and then it moves out,” Adams said. “It’s unusual to have a front hang over like this one did. We got soaked with this one.”

Adams said today’s forecast called for seasonable temperatures, which is between 55-75 for early May. But there’s a chance for rain Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

That’s not what coaches want to hear, especially considering the number of games already lost due to weather.

In softball, Elizabethtown and North Hardin have had 10 games canceled due to weather. John Hardin has had five.

In baseball, Central Hardin has had eight followed by Elizabethtown with five.

“This is by far the most and I’ve been here 10 years,” North Hardin softball coach Donnie Baker said. “I can’t ever remember having this many. It’s tough not only on us but all teams. It’s tough to take, but all you can do is keep a positive attitude.”

This is the final week for teams to play 17th District games, which has forced softball coaches to scramble – as one coach put it. In order to get the games in, North Hardin is playing Fort Knox at 5:30 p.m. today and then going to John Hardin to face Central Hardin, which plays the Lady Bulldogs at 5:30. Once Fort Knox leaves North Hardin, the Lady Eagles will go to Elizabethtown to play another game.

“The whole district is in a bind,” John Hardin softball coach Andrew Hundley said. “We have to get these games in, so I thought, ‘Why not let the teams play at our place?’ It’s tough on everyone.”

Meanwhile, district baseball teams are caught up heading into this week. Central Hardin and Fort Knox each have one game left, while the other three teams have two.

The unusual amount of cancellations has left coaches searching to pick up new games. Baseball and softball teams are allowed to play 36 games, according to the KHSAA. The trouble for coaches has been fitting games in, especially with the KHSAA regulations.

“The four-day rule, which says you can’t play four straight school days, hurts,” Elizabethtown coach Don Pitts said.

The coaches said it’s not only a problem for varsity teams. Junior varsity and freshman squads have lost a number of games due to weather, varsity games being pushed to later start times and varsity games being shifted to different days.

The hope is after the expected showers later this week is for better weather the final week of the regular season and the postseason.

“The kids start to get antsy,” Pitts said. “They want to play. I think everybody just wants to play.”

Chuck Jones can be reached

at 505-1759