Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Start of spring season uncertain with current conditions, more snow coming

Bristol Central baseball's varsity field as seen Tuesday morning. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
The spring sports season is supposed to start on Easter Weekend, or Saturday, March 31 to be precise.
I took a ride around the area, visiting three schools and a park that hosts games during the season. March 31 is in jeopardy, especially with the latest winter storm coming Wednesday into Thursday of this week.
My first site was Bristol Central High School. The varsity field honestly looked the best out of all of the ones I visited, and that's with water standing in the way of a sliding runner and third base. Behind the plate is another story, with snow blanketing the grass behind home plate. There's also snow near the mound, and snow out in the field itself.
Having covered Bristol Central, I know that this multi-purpose field (it's used for soccer in the fall) doesn't handle water well. Even if the snow melts early, the field will still be soaked. 
Wolcott baseball's varsity field as seen Tuesday morning. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
The Rams don't start their varsity slate until April 4, and they are on the road for the first two games. Their home opener is scheduled for Monday, April 9, against Hall.
The next stop was Wolcott High School. Except for a narrow path of grass in front of the left field fence, the varsity baseball field is covered in snow. It looks nothing like a baseball field at the moment -- more suited for cross country skiing -- and the incoming winter storm will only make that worse.
Wolcott is on the road for its season opener on March 31 at Woodland. The home opener is slated for Friday, April 6, against Oxford.
My third stop was Wilby High School. Perched on top of Bucks Hill, the Wildcat fields are already at a disadvantage. Like Wolcott, the Wilby varsity baseball field is covered in snow with very little grass visible.
Wilby's varsity baseball field as seen Tuesday morning. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Wilby begins its season on Wednesday, April 4, at Oxford. Kaynor Tech is the home opener, which is penciled in for Friday, April 6.
Bucks Hill Park was my last top on the wintry fields tour. The softball infield appears to be a muddy mess, and there is a decent amount of snow in the outfield, though nowhere near as much as Wilby or Wolcott. Bucks Hill Park's softball field is the home venue for Wilby softball, and more snow will definitely be an issue.
In my opinion, the spring sports regular season games shouldn't start until the first full weekend in April. The extra week could help the snow melt and the fields dry out. It's tough to cram the spring season into only a couple months, but starting in March in Connecticut doesn't work so well. Expect plenty of scrimmages to be cancelled over the next two weeks.
The forecast as of this afternoon for Wolcott and Waterbury, according to the National Weather Service website, is for 11-15 inches of snow and light ice accumulations. Ouch.
For Bristol, the forecast from NWS says 5-10 inches of snow.
Local TV stations vary in their forecast amounts from 4-9 to 6-12, and there could be locally higher amounts.
The infield of a Bucks Hill Park softball field looking quite muddy on Tuesday morning.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Burlington-based weather forecaster John Bagioni said the European model is showing the snowfall numbers dropping, but he cautioned against anything being a done deal. Bagioni couldn't be more right, given what winters in New England are like.
If this storm smacks the area as bad as the NWS says it will, local fields may need until the first weekend in April just to dry out.
No matter how much snow falls, more snow is not great for spring sports teams.
As far as high temperatures go, they will be mostly in the low 40s for Bristol and Waterbury, but a mix of high 30s and low 40s for Wolcott, according to NWS.
What all this snow and mud means is teams will have to share gymnasiums for practices. A hardwood floor can't simulate the bounces of a baseball or softball field, and only so much can be done inside to get ready for track and field. We'll see what happens with the storm and upcoming weather patterns. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I think the March 31 start isn't happening.

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