By Lisa Byers
The Meadville Tribune
Most years the most devastating opposition for area softball and baseball teams is old Mother Nature.
This year has been no different. The wrath, however, has been a little less traumatic.
In fact, few teams if any should have difficulty getting in the remainder of their scheduled games by the completion of the regular season on May 18.
But for a team like the Conneaut Area Senior High baseball squad, which is in its first year as a program, it’s the lack of consistency that has been the most troublesome. That’s mostly due to the shortage of practice time as the team works to get in rescheduled games from rain- and snow-outs from earlier in the campaign.
“This spring there is nothing that would surprise us,” said Conneaut head coach Todd Greenawalt, as he watched puddles form on the baseball diamond Wednesday afternoon where the Eagles were scheduled to play Oil City. That game was eventually postponed and is scheduled to be played today at CASH at 4 p.m.
“We had nice weather at the beginning,” Greenawalt said. “I think we were able to get out right after tryouts and then we had a foot of snow, and it was a week and a half, two weeks before we were able to play.
“Then this last week has been like summer until now. The inconsistency has really hurt practice. Because when you do get out, you play games and then you have to turn around and practice inside.”
Needless to say, the Eagles were a bit behind the 8 ball earlier in the season. On April 23, Conneaut was 3-7 and was coming off a stretch where it had lost six of its last seven.
That isn’t the case anymore. Going into Wednesday’s game with Oil City, the Eagles were in the midst of a four-game winning streak and looking to avenge a 3-2 loss to the Oilers.
Currently, the Eagles are 7-7 overall and 3-4 in Region 6.
Greenawalt and Co. are hoping Wednesday’s cancellation won’t hinder the Eagles’ momentum.
“We were looking forward to playing Oil City,” Greenawalt said. “It’s our last region game. We are hoping to finish up region play strong. For us, it would get us to .500 on the season and would be a nice little first season for us.
“Hopefully it doesn’t rain out our focus and enthusiasm, because we have been playing pretty well. And the kids have been really excited about just fitting in to triple-A and having an opportunity to compete with the other triple-A teams.”
Regardless of how the season does play out down the stretch, Greenawalt is very pleased with the Eagles’ effort in their first season and is looking forward to the offseason and the 2014 high school baseball season.
“Our thing this year has really just been the lack of consistency of practicing,” Greenawalt said. “We haven’t had the time on the field to see guys at different positions or to practice different situations. But it’s been exciting. With time, we have gotten stronger and I think that will continue going forward.”
Conneaut wasn’t the only team sent back to the gymnasium short of playing a game Wednesday afternoon.
The Saegertown softball team, too, had a highly anticipated matchup against Titusville at Allegheny College’s Robertson Field postponed.
The Lady Panthers were looking to step onto a field for the first time since learning they had clinched the Region 3 championship. Saegertown is the first team — baseball or softball — to lock up a title this season.
“I can’t remember this ever happening so early,” Saegertown coach Mark McKissock said. “It seems like it is always a struggle.”
Of course, the season is far from over for the Panthers.
“We still have four games left, possibly five,” McKissock said. “We have to keep getting a little bit better and not give up on the rest of the season. We still need to stay in the winning ways.”
On Friday, the Lady Panthers suffered a first — a loss this season in the state of Pennsylvania. Saegertown does have three total losses on the year, but two of those came in Florida. Friday’s loss came to McDowell.
Blessing in disguise?
“Last year, we lost to Maplewood and Cambridge Springs back-to-back,” McKissock said. “I look back on it now and I think it was a good thing and an eye opener. But you don’t know that yet. We still have games to play.”
The Panthers have a busy couple of weeks.
On Friday, Saegertown plays Conneaut Area High School at Edinboro University. Then next week, the Panthers have Region 3 games scheduled with Cochranton and Maplewood.
The Panthers will attempt to make up yesterday’s game against Titusville on Saturday. Nothing has been finalized, though. McKissock said the team is also trying to add a game with Warren.
“It’s no time to go in coast mode,” McKissock said.