Spring teams deal with winter’s stubbornness

The softball field at Naugatuck High School is covered with several inches of snow on Monday from last week’s storm. –LUKE MARSHALL

Just when you thought the coast was clear, there comes that knock at the door from Old Man Winter. Heading into the final week of February, we couldn’t help but think about bright sunny spring days filled with baseball games, tennis matches and softball battles. After all, the temperatures were flirting with the 60s.

But just like a relative that won’t leave during the holidays, winter can be quite stubborn when it comes to relinquishing its reign. The rude awakening came March 14 when Winter Storm Stella dumped more than a foot of snow on the region days before spring practice for high school sports was set to begin.

With opening games scheduled for the first week of April, teams are scrambling to work out the details of practice schedules when everyone is crammed inside the confines of a gym.

“The baseball and softball fields at Naugatuck are currently under several inches of snow,” Naugatuck High interim Athletic Director Brian Mariano said. “Once it does melt the fields will be quite muddy for some time.”

“There is a slight chance that this can delay the start of the season,” Mariano added. “It all depends on how fast the snow melts. As far as practices are concerned, we already have a schedule in place for poor weather and we will just use that for the time being.”

Obviously being outside would be the best-case scenario for teams, but this is New England, and it’s not like we haven’t been down this road before.

The unseasonable weather affects some teams less than others. In some cases having a dry field has little to do with an optimum surface to play on.

That’s the case for the defending NVL champion Naugatuck girls tennis team. As head coach Jose Sendra gets his girls ready to defend their title, playing on asphalt does have its advantages.

“I’m happy to say the blizzard didn’t impact us at all,” Sendra said. “We conditioned indoors on Saturday. Our courts are now clear and we practiced outside.”

Other teams are taking the brunt of winter’s unwillingness to let go in stride.

The Woodland baseball team seems to be in full mode when it comes to putting the pieces in place to make a run in the NVL.

“Our guys have been really committed to our offseason workouts, and we have been continuing to build on that practicing in the gym this week,” Woodland head coach Mike Kingsley said. “They are getting in the batting cage and working on defensive techniques and making the most out of the situation. The storm really hasn’t affected our preparation as much as you would think.”

Every team in the state is dealing with the same conditions, Kingsley added.

“We have a really young talented bunch who are eager to learn and compete in this league,” Kingsley said. “They would benefit greatly from scrimmages, but every team in the state is up against this weather situation. We just need to continue to work hard and be ready for the season-opener.”