Storm causes problems for spring sports schedules

Aaron Harris

Figuring out the best way to clear snow from a baseball field isn’t exactly a common problem in Delaware.

But local athletic directors were left with that headache — and others — after Mother Nature decided to dump several inches of snow on the area just as the high school spring sports season was set to begin.

Field, court and track conditions wiped out opening day for any school that had events slated for Thursday.

Some Henlopen Conference games or matches could be played today. But there’s a lot of factors involved, including which schools have artificial turf, how much sun hits the fields and how good the drainage is.

Smyrna had the most snow in the conference, with about eight inches, while some parts of Sussex County got less than an inch.

On Thursday afternoon, Smyrna was using a golf cart to break up the snow on its artificial turf field to expose the green surface to the sun.

“It tends to melt off pretty quick,” said athletic director Bill Schultz. “Baseball and softball is where we’re going to have the most difficulty.

“Anybody who just had infields done, it’s going to be really soft for a while. The ground’s going to be wet, there’s nowhere for it to go.”

“With what we got in Kent County, everything’s going to be tough,” said Dover AD Aaron Harris. “Even though we have a turf field, it’s snow-covered.”

One of the issues for high school ADs is that next weekend is the start of spring break. Most schools had limited schedules planned for March 30 through April 8.

Those plans may have to change.

“Everybody’s being flexible and working together to get it done,” said Schultz. “We’ll see. It’s going to be tough. We’re going to be playing three games a week.

“Everybody’s in the same boat so that’s the only nice thing.”

“We kind of build in a week or so to accommodate for that,” Harris said about rescheduling. “But it’s always hectic, especially with the opening of the season. Luckily, we have a little buffer built in for one or two cancellations. But, anything beyond that, it’s just really tough.”

Mike Drass

The situation is a little different for college programs, where teams are already well into their spring schedules. Wesley College athletic director Mike Drass, though, doesn’t like to send teams back inside to practice.

“They’re in mid-season form,” he said. “Now you worry for the kids who have to practice in the batting cage inside.”

As for the artificial turf field in Miller Stadium. Drass said the Wolverines’ lacrosse team planned to just practice with the snow on it on Thursday.

“The best way to get it to melt is just to run around on it,” he said. “But baseball and softball are in a different world. We need it to be windy and sunny out.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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