By David Krueger Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — High school sports writers don’t really get a chance to brace for new sports seasons. Once one ends, another starts right behind it. Somewhere in between we have to preview those sports while honoring the top players for the sports that just finished.
While teams are holding tryouts and practicing in the weeks leading up to the season, we’re trying to get all our work done while cramming in five minutes to hang out with our friends and families.
That’s why Tuesday afternoon’s baseball “opener” between Snohomish and Jackson was just what I needed.
Because it didn’t exist.
The Panthers and Timberwolves played just four complete innings — one short of being declared an official game. So, the contest, as far as the standings and statistics are concerned, never happened.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to spring sports.
The game did, however, provide practice for me to hone my baseball-covering skills before the official games start. I was six outs away from my first baseball story of the year. I had re-remembered my scoring system, got reacquainted with the Snohomish press box and later got a practice interview with a head coach.
Like the two teams playing, basically I got some batting practice.
In that final inning, Jackson may have defeated Snohomish. The Timberwolves were up 10-3 going into the top of the fifth when finally, after almost two hours in a constant drizzle, the game was called. Jackson head coach Kirk Nicholson had come out to the pitcher’s mound on several occasions to see if it was safe and request more dirt be poured on it for the players’ safety.
“Why get someone hurt?” Nicholson said. “(It’s the) first game of the year.”
And it had been a wild one. Snohomish scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and had built a 3-0 lead going into the third. That’s when Jackson exploded for eight runs, thanks to Aaron Avalos, who batted 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored, and Alek Baumgartner, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
With victory so close, some might think Nicholson would be angry that his team, which fought hard to earn the lead, would have nothing in the stat book to show for it.
But it was quite the opposite. After the “game” Nicholson joked that Baumgartner was the only one upset with the result.
“Baumgartner’s really ticked,” Nicholson said with a laugh as he looked over at the outfielder. “He got two hits today with a couple RBIs. He’s really mad that we’re not going another inning.”
As of Tuesday night Baumgartner, Avalos and the rest of the Jackson and Snohomish baseball teams were all batting .000 with zero runs scored and zero RBI.
It was a great — and appropriate — start to the spring season for us prep writers. It’s not the first season-opening rainout and it surely won’t be the last. But it gave me a chance to get back into the swing of baseball and softball season.
I’m not saying that I was nervous for the season to start. Far from it. I love spring sports.
However, there’s always that small, anxious feeling when you cover a sport for the first time of the year. Fortunately, I was given a practice round. So here’s how the lead would have gone had the game ended with an “official” result:
“The Jackson Timberwolves’ season opener had a little bit of everything. Errors, hits, walks, runs, rain and players having pitches ricochet off their batting helmets. In the end, thanks to an eight-run third inning, it also had a come-from-behind victory for the Timberwolves.”
Except it didn’t.
I have a bad feeling we’re going to be fighting inclimate weather all season. At The Herald, we decided to use the Twitter hashtag “#rainwars” to update folks on how the battle is going. As of Tuesday night, the rain took round one against us, and holds the current lead: The Elements 1, Spring Sports 0.
All the rain is nothing new to the coaches and athletes. For them, it might be more unusual to play a game in the sun.
“It’s just another day at the yard, right?” Nicholson said. “Another rainy day at the yard.”
As I’m sure you all are well aware, all these rainouts — and subsequent makeups — turn the schedules for spring sports into more of a guideline of when teams could play if the weather cooperates. Unfortunately, this means we might miss a game or two over the course of the year because it got made up on a day and nobody told us. All we can ask is that you please forgive us for any errors we might have.
We’re doing the best we can. We didn’t get to go to spring training.
David Krueger covers prep sports for The Herald. You can talk to him via Twitter (@Krueger_David) or e-mail him at email@example.com.