Photo by Ben Mitchell
THE WEATHER has impacted field conditions at local schools and forced many teams to practice inside ahead of the start of the spring sports season next week, including the girls tennis team and Head Coach Erin Mason (above), who is shown running drills with his athletes Wednesday afternoon in the gym. Track is one of the few sports not impacted by the conditions.
It’s a common issue for prep spring sports in the Pacific Northwest: schools west of the Cascades struggle to get games in during the earlier part of the season, as rainy weather makes playing surfaces unsafe.
That goes for Hood River Valley High School too, but this winter’s deluge of precipitation has been making things a little more challenging than usual for the school district.
The first games of the spring sports season were supposed to kick off Monday and Tuesday in Hood River, with the varsity softball team and the varsity baseball team hosting Gresham and Sam Barlow, respectively. But due to field conditions and an iffy weather forecast, those games have been moved to the 16th Street ballpark in The Dalles. Other sports are also up in the air about where their games will be held — if they are held at all (check sports schedule below for more information).
“It’s already well underway. We’re swapping games and doing what we have to do to play,” said HRVHS Athletic Director Tom Ames. “We’re appreciative that The Dalles are allowing us to use the fields for the varsity games.”
Organizing games and practices for 2017’s spring sports season has been more nightmarish than usual for Ames, who said that none of the fields at the high school are really playable. There’s been some outfield work for the baseball and softball teams, but the infields can’t be touched at the moment. The baseball, softball, lacrosse, and tennis teams have largely been confined to the gym for limited practices and drills.
But those saturated playing fields are an improvement considering that up until a couple weeks ago, snow still covered the grass at the high school. The track and field team was one of the few at the high school able to hold outdoor practices despite the snow cover, shoveling off a lane of the track so that athletes could get in some laps. Indian Creek Golf Course also has had all 18 holes open on its course since March 2, allowing the golf team to get in some practice time as well — when the weather cooperates.
The lingering snow has also delayed some field maintenance activities that groundskeeping crews would typically perform in anticipation of the beginning of the spring sports season.
“Some of our field cleanup stuff we have had to postpone… I don’t think there’s been a mower on the field yet because they’re too soggy and that’s not normal,” Ames noted.
Though playing surfaces are in less than ideal shape, they could be in much worse condition. Ames said that in November, the district aerated fields at both the high school and Westside Elementary School and covered them with sand. “It creates a lot better drainage situation,” he explained. “Without that, we would be in a lot worse situation.”
At this point, there is little else to do but hope for some sunny, warm, and windy days to help dry out the fields. And if that doesn’t happen, at least spring break starts in two weeks, giving the school a reprieve from rescheduling games.
Spring sports start next week
After a long winter, spring sports get underway next week… weather permitting, of course. Here’s what’s on tap for the first week of varsity action (head to columbiariverconference.org for more information):
HRV softball hosts Gresham at 4:30 p.m. at The Dalles.
HRV baseball travels to Gresham for a game at the same time.
The baseball team is “home” with Sam Barlow at 4:30 p.m. at The Dalles.
HRV track and field travels to Hermiston for a dual meet at 4 p.m.
The HRV girls tennis team hosts St. Helens at 4 p.m. at the Tsuruta Tennis Courts.
The HRV boys tennis team travels to St. Helens, also at 4 p.m.
Softball returns home for a 4:30 p.m. game against Wilsonville at Westside.
The HRV girls lacrosse team has their season opener at 7 p.m. against Jesuit, which will be played at HRVHS.
The baseball team travels to Wilsonville for a game at 5 p.m.
The girls lacrosse team will travel to Westview for a game at 7 p.m. (originally at home).
Horizon boys golf has a match in The Dalles at 10 a.m.
Boys and girls tennis will head to Parkrose for a 4 p.m. match.
HRV track and field heads to The Dalles for the Mullen-Leavitt Invite. First event starts at 11 a.m.
Horizon Christian track and field also opens their season at the same event.
Softball travels to Sandy High to play Sam Barlow at 1 p.m. (moved from Tuesday afternoon).