Rock spring sports have always had to deal with the unpredictability of western Pennsylvania weather, but with sports such as softball currently pushing a two week game drought, things are about to get a little more hectic.
“Mother nature is undefeated,” SRU athletic director Paul Lueken said. “I don’t know if I remember snow lasting this long. We got teased in March a little bit. It was nice for about a week and a half and then everybody thought spring is here.”
The weather has affected softball the most, as they haven’t played a game since March 24 against Lock Haven University. They’ve had their past three double-headers canceled, with a fourth already canceled for this Friday against Mercyhurst University.
Lueken said that softball is going to have to look at a few different options since they are decently far behind, and one of those options might include a trip to a facility in Virginia.
“We’re looking at some possibilities down the road on where we might do it,” Lueken said. “We might actually even have to go to a facility in Virginia where they host softball tournaments and renting the field for two days.”
Baseball has had a few cancellations of their own, but have been able to make them up in a small amount of time. In order to make up their doubleheader against Clarion University, the teams were able to move the games to a neutral site in Butler at Kelly Automotive Park, formally known as Pullman Park.
For baseball, their only current makeup games are set to be this weekend, as their home doubleheader against the University of Pitt-Johnstown has been pushed to Sunday, while they already had another doubleheader scheduled at UPJ on Friday. This situation will allow The Rock to travel there and stay the weekend to play both doubleheaders.
“The other thing you don’t have planned is budgetary wise we didn’t have budgeted to take two bus trips to Johnstown, we had one,” Lueken said.
Lueken said that both teams have to work together to make up the games, and often that includes splitting the cost with each other. For example, Lueken negotiated that if UPJ would pay the rental for the field, plus the umpires for what would have been The Rock’s home games, then we would just pay for the bus to get there, and the numbers would be very close, Lueken said.
Moving the games to a neutral site is often a very effective method, Lueken said. Women’s tennis has also had to exercise this method as they announced on Thursday that their two home matches this weekend against West Virginia State University and the University of Charleston have been moved to Oxford Athletic Club in Wexford.
On the flip side, women’s lacrosse has had just one cancellation on March 24. against Kutztown University, due to the fact that they always play on turf, making rain and snow easier to drain and clear off.
“You just gotta go where you can get them in,” Lueken said. “Up here if you got a turf field you go a chance of getting them done.”
One cancellation that came as somewhat of a surprise to Lueken was the Dave Labor Invitational track and field meet The Rock was supposed to host this Saturday.
“I can not remember us canceling a track meet in April since I’ve been here,” Lueken said with a laugh. “Especially due to cold. I can understand thunderstorms and heavy rain, but cold and winter snow, I can’t remember that.”
With the unpredictability of the weather in our area, mother nature could continue to be uncooperative, which will present more problems for Lueken and the coaches of both teams. The last resort solution for all the cancellations would simply be to toss the games out, which has been done before, Lueken said.
“If something doesn’t break here soon, then the conference commission will have to decide what they want to do,” Lueken said. “So we’ll see what happens and we’ll make it work and pray that mother nature will just give us a little bit of a break.”