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Rain, rain stay away

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By DAVID HUNTER
The Cannon Courier

Since the beginning of the spring sports season, a few weeks ago, bad weather has forced either cancellation or rescheduling of games for every Cannon County team.

There has not be a flow to the schedule so far and all the local coaches have spent just as much time looking at radar as well as preparing their respective teams for a game.

"It is a big challenge really, because once you start pushing it back you starting getting into your pitching rotations, and you mentally have to get focused throughout the day," CCHS baseball head coach Colin Jones said March 28.

CCHS softball co-head coach Phillip Mullins added, "It is a challenge, and it gets a little stressful at times. We do everything we can to play and we do it for the kids.

For a game to be cancelled or postponed and rescheduled, each of the coaches must go through a process in every case depending if they are the host or visitor of the sporting event. Not only does it affect the teams playing, but it also affects the officials, the parents of the players, and many other key people with each program.

"We go through a process between both coaches as we both watch the radar and see what is coming," Jones said. "We usually make the call about 30 minutes before the buses leave. Yesterday (March 27) we made the call, because it was going to storm."

Mullins added, "As soon as we wake up our heads are spinning wondering what we are going to do. Whoever the home team is they take care of making the call, which we all work together. We are watching the radar all day, so we made the call around 1:30 (March 27) with Community, even though it was still sunny, but it was about to hit. So, the home team usually makes the call working with the other coaches."

So, when it is determined that the day's game will be cancelled or postponed, the respective coaches goes through another process of getting the word out to their players, so they can pass it on to those family and friends who were planning to watch them play that day.

"We put it on all social media accounts, and we let every player know while at school," Jones said. "They are responsible for telling their parents, and we let the umpires know and they tell it."

Mullins added, "If it is an away game, the first person we call is the bus driver, and then if it is a home game, we call the umpires and them my wife (co-head coach) Emily texts all of the girls, and then they relay it to all of the parents."

At the same time, the coaches and officials are trying to balance safety for everyone involved, while trying to get as many games in during the season in preparation for the postseason.

"We make sure we look at it whether it's a thunderstorm, or a quick storm; whether it's a long process or just rain," Jones said. "If it is just rain sometimes we can get through it. We just have to wait on it."

Mullins added, "I think safety is the No. 1 thing, if that coach would not have called it (March 27), I would have called it. We knew what was coming. Having play days and tournaments, we try to schedule as many games as we can."

Now the procedure turns into if the game will be made up in the future or cancelled all together. The coaches of the two teams who are playing against each other will take into a lot of factors in determining if when and where the game will be made up or not be played at all. The process differs when district games are being affected than non-league contests.

"Both coaches must take agreements into their schedules, and look ahead," Jones said. "A lot of times, it is little tougher now this year, because of pitch count rules. It depends on the open schedules."

Mullins added, "For example, DeKalb County as soon as we called the game, we were already talking about when to reschedule. Their coach sent us the dates he had available, and we went from there and picked a date. For non-district games, sometimes you cancel it all together, or like with White County we now have a double header here."

So, what is the process each coach goes through not only locally, but around the state trying to get these games in, while not putting anybody in danger of severe weather. Also, when it hits what is the process of getting their respective fields of play back in playable shape for the next game when the weather finally clears up. For example, when does each program cover the field with tarps in preparing for ugly weather.

"It is a lot of work, because we have to put it on prior to the rain," Jones said. "If you get it on once the rain hits, it will saturate too much, and you cannot play anyway. It takes a couple of hours. For the Whitwell game, it took us four to five hours to get all the field conditioner drugged out and spread out to make it playable."

Mullins added, "That tarp has been on the (softball) field probably four or five days now. I am constantly watching the weather and seeing what it is going to do with rain. We have all the girls here putting the tarp on the field. Taking it off, that's another story, because they were all in school today, and I drug that tarp full of water about halfway off the field by myself."

In fairness, after school, the players did help coach Phillip Mullins drag the rest of it up and roll it behind the first base foul line.

"We have stuff we buy from the Co-Op that we can throw on the field to make sure it is playable," Mullins said. "The quicker we can get the tarp off, the quicker this field will dry and be playable."

He started the process before the March 28 game against Upperman, which was played as scheduled with CCHS losing in heartbreaking fashion, 6-3, at 9:30 am, and the tarp was rolled up behind the foul line around 3:30 p.m.

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