BASEBALL: Bad weather cancelling games

Michael Casagrande

For the second time in as many weeks, the weather has the Toppers waiting in limbo. After the rain washed out last weekend’s three game with Illinois State, snow is the issue this time.

A thin layer of snow covered the grass at Denes Field, but the Toppers (2-1) found refuge in the form of their indoor hitting facility.

The threat of yet another canceled series makes coach Joel Murrie wonder if the season should start later than mid-February.

“We are the only sport in the NCAA without a common starting date.” Murrie said. “…there is not equality, but that’s the way it is and we will deal with it the best we can.”

Schools in warm weather regions have a distinct advantage over the rest of the country. Murrie used Arizona State as an example of a team that has already played 22 games, nearly half of their schedule. The Sun Devil’s season began in mid-January, almost a month before Western took the field.

The Toppers are doing their best to keep the weather in the back of their minds as Wright State (0-3) will pay a visit to Denes Field this weekend. The series was originally scheduled as a three-game set, but Murrie said Western would now play the Raiders four times this weekend. Saturday will feature a double-header in order to make up for lost games last weekend.

Wright State is coming off a disappointing start to the season, dropping three in a row to Western Carolina. The Raiders were outscored 26-10 in the season-opening series.

Despite not playing at all last weekend, senior pitcher Matt Wilhite does not think that the team lost momentum after winning two out of three games at nationally ranked Central Florida.

“We went down there and proved that we could play without being on the field that much,” Wilhite said. “I think we have a lot of confidence right now and I don’t think it’s going to hurt us.”

With the natural grass at Denes Field covered in snow, the Toppers have been sent elsewhere to practice taking ground balls, namely, L.T. Smith Stadium and the artificial turf.

While the plastic grass can handle the harsh winter weather better than the natural turf, Wilhite would rather play on Bermuda than AstroPlay.

“The way I look at it, a baseball field has dirt on it,” Wilhite said with a smile. “I don’t care for the artificial stuff. Grass and dirt is what it’s all about.”

The issue of installing artificial turf at Denes Field has been brought up, Murrie said, but is not financially feasible at the present time.

“We’ve talked about it amongst the coaching staff, but you are looking at close to $400,000,” Murrie said. “That would have to be all outside generated money, and with the state of our economy right now, it will be difficult to find potential donors.”

For now, the Toppers will be focused on Wright State. The four-game series kicks off at 2 p.m. tomorrow. Saturday’s doubleheader is slated to begin at noon and the series will conclude with a 1 p.m. matinee at Denes Field.

That is, if the weather holds up.

Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected].