Baseball teams on hiatus
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The local baseball teams will be taking an unexpected break.
On Friday, the Troup County School System announced that all of the county’s schools will be closed for the next two weeks.
To go along with that, all school activities have been suspended, and that includes sports.
That means there won’t be any games for at least the next two weeks, and teams also won’t be permitted to hold organized practices, and all of the athletic facilities at the schools will be closed.
Whether the seasons will continue for the spring-sports teams or not will be determined once the two-week period ends.
Craig Garner, Troup’s head coach, said he’ll try to come up with a plan to hopefully keep the players in shape for when and if the season continues.
“As of right now, we haven’t had a chance to talk as far as what our plan is over the next two weeks, and what direction I’m going to give them as far as being able to keep themselves in game shape, and game speed,” Garner said. “We’ll talk, and I’m probably going to have to do it through our group text.
“I’ll probably have to open the facility for them to come and get their gloves and bats and stuff like that to be able to do the things they need to be able to do individually.”
At LaGrange, head coach Donnie Branch is hopeful that the team leaders will make sure all of the players stay prepared.
“We won’t practice, but I’m pretty confident that with the leadership on our team they’ll have stuff going,” Branch said. “If you sit around and eat Cheetos for two weeks, you’re not going to be very prepared if we do get to play.”
Dusty Hubbard, Callaway’s head coach, is asking his players to stay as ready as they can.
“Basically, I told them in our group text to try to stay in shape, keep our arms loose, and hit when you can,” Hubbard said. “They don’t want anybody on campus hitting of course, so we’ll have to try to use the Five Star and the other facilities. That’s basically it.”
Even if Troup County teams are given the go-ahead to start playing, there are still issues concerning what will be a revised schedule.
Hubbard said there has already been discussion between the coaches in Region 5-AA about what could happen.
“When you get back, everybody has to decide how they’re going to do it,” Hubbard said. “How are they going to finish it up? I know in our region, we’ve already been on a group text, and we’ve got some ideas. But there’s nothing that’s concrete at this point.”
LaGrange and Troup play in Region 5-AAA that includes teams from six different school systems.
“I think we’re going to try to have a meeting sometime next week, and sit down and discuss what we’re going to do as a region, our plan to prepare for this the best we can with the limited knowledge that we have,” Garner said. “But there’s still a lot of unknowns right now.”
Garner would be fine with extending a season that at the moment is scheduled to end in the middle of May.
“I talked to several coaches and other administrators in other school systems as well, and talked about the fact that years ago, we never started practice until after February,” Garner said. “Your goal coming into the season was let’s be playing when school’s out. That was your goal, be playing when school’s out, after graduation. You can extend the season two weeks, and still 90 percent of the schools in the state are going to be finished before graduation. The ones that are still playing, they’re still happy because they’re still playing.”
Branch, who has a big group of seniors on his team, wants the season to continue for their sake.
“The thing about it is, there’s a lot of questions, because if the school systems aren’t uniform in what they do, how do you play a region schedule if one school system’s out for three weeks, and another is out for two weeks,” Branch said. “I hope we’ll somehow get to do something. It makes me sick to my stomach for the seniors. They don’t get to come back and have a re-do. I also have a lot of respect for people that are smarter than me and make decisions, but it makes me sad for our older kids, knowing that their future in baseball is hanging on somebody’s decision. They don’t know. They’ve got nothing they can control.”
Once teams do return, they’ll need a little while before they can start playing games.
“You need a full week to practice,” Hubbard said. “You take a pitcher that doesn’t throw for 14 days, you have to build them back up again.”