Rain dampens start to spring sports season at MHS

Milford High's girls' tennis team was forced to practice in the rain. (Milford Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Milford High’s girls’ tennis team was forced to practice in the rain. (Milford Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

MILFORD — Rain, rain go away.

And snow, keep your distance even more.

Those are the hopes of everyone involved with spring prep sports in Milford, where the weather has severely hindered preseason practices.

“It’s definitely been a difficult spring,” Buccaneers baseball head coach Nick Brannan said, but added that the entire state has been dealing with the same conditions.

Brannan’s team is scheduled to open its season this Saturday at home versus North Caroline (Md.). The Bucs were allowed to begin preseason practices at the end of February.

Entering last weekend, they had yet to have a full outside practice on their field due to it being completely saturated with water.

Of five scheduled scrimmages, Milford’s baseball team has had to cancel four. The fifth, scheduled for Wednesday versus Salesianum, looks like it could happen but the forecast is for a high temperature in the mid-40s, 25 degrees colder than Tuesday’s predicted warmth.

Despite the water-logged playing surface and sometimes bitter temperatures, Brannan said his team is taking it all in stride as it approaches the start of the season, aided by Milford’s indoor practice facilities.

“We’ve done our best to maximize what little time we can get hitting flyballs in the parking lot and taking grounders indoors,” he said. “But obviously it’s a different animal when you go outside. Defensive repetitions (this week) is going to be the motto. In terms of offense (versus live pitching), we’re just going to be flying by the seat of our pants so to speak.”

Softball head coach Drew Holleger’s team at Milford is in the same boat.

Though the girls were able to practice on their field last Friday, they are behind schedule with Saturday’s 11 a.m. opener – also versus North Caroline – looming.

Like Brannan, Holleger said his team is making the best of a soggy situation.

One benefit the softball team has, said the coach, is its veteran leadership. Most of the team is familiar with playing together and the roster is filled with girls who practice the sport throughout the offseason.

“We’ve got some new players, but we also have a pretty experienced group returning,” said Holleger, whose team is scheduled to play its only scrimmage Thursday versus Cape Henlopen. “I think we’ll be ready to go when the season starts.”

While other spring sports haven’t been quite as affected by the weather as baseball and softball, the wet start to the preseason has them behind schedule as well.

Although her girls’ tennis team can roughly simulate the playing surface inside, head coach Jacquelyn Powers said there are some obvious differences from playing outside on the courts.

“We purchased indoor nets last year, which has been a big help,” said Powers, whose team is slated to open its season March 24 at St. Thomas More. “Of course, inside we have a small gym so it’s only halfcourt, which makes a difference.

“When you’re playing tennis, a lot of it is learning to play with the wind,” she continued. “And when you are indoors 90 percent of the time, when you come out to play a real game you don’t perform as well. It’s good to practice in the conditions you are going to be playing in.”

From the Milford Chronicle Sports Desk

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