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Mother Nature continues to beat area teams

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By Paul Gable

A combination of straight-line winds, rain and snow has Mother Nature one up on the county's spring sporting teams with their respective opening days two weeks away.

The weather has created headaches for coaches, who have tried to plan practices and scrimmages only to be forced either indoors or to cancel the events altogether.

Grant County High School's baseball and softball teams have been hit the hardest since straight line winds a month ago ruined their playing facilities. The baseball field received damage to its new backstop, while the softball field's concession stand's roof, along with the third base dugout and bleachers were destroyed. As of press time, both facilities were still in need of construction work prior to opening day on March 25 for both teams.

GCHS' baseball coach Van Duncan said the weather has created problems in his field being ready.

"It has really affected us," said Duncan, adding that the ground is so wet, he is not sure when the field will be fixed.

The team's former field, next to the Grant County Board of Education office, also received some damage to a set of bleachers and the right field fence.

As a result of the muddy conditions, the Braves have been on the field just twice this preseason.

"Luckily, the middle school gym has been made available to us, so we've been able to practice inside most days, except for days when we've had no school. We're concerned that we haven't been outside," Duncan said.

Duncan did say that his team is no different than others in the state who have been affected by weather.

"We just have to improvise, adapt and overcome. Some nice, 70 degree days with nothing but sunshine would be nice, though," he said.

The Lady Braves softball team, coached by Marlon Gregg, has also endured its share of weather-related issues in terms of scheduling practices outside. The softball team has been outside once.

"We made it a three-hour practice," Gregg said. "Due to the weather, we've probably missed four practices. The real problem with practicing in the gym is the girls don't get a feel for hitting off a live-arm."

Grant County's teams are not the only ones facing adversity, as both the Williamstown baseball and softball teams are tiring of practicing indoors.

Buck Walter, coach of the WHS baseball team, said this year is a far cry from last season.

"Last year, we were outside 12 days in a row, including Sundays. This year, it has been more typical of what you can expect in terms of the weather. I hope it gets warmer and we can get our games in," said Walter.

WHS softball coach Mark Wilhoit has not taken his team onto the field yet due to weather.