SYCAMORE – Those indoor practices became repetitive for the Sycamore baseball team.
Baseball isn't meant to be played in a fieldhouse or a gym, but inclement weather kept the Spartans inside for almost all of March. Hitting in indoor batting cages and playing catch in a confined area became boring after a few months.
So as the Spartans sat in the dugout at Founders Field on Saturday during a doubleheader with Ottawa, relying on an large heater in the dugout for warmth from a chilly wind blowing in from right field, they weren't worried about the weather.
The strong wind slowed Sycamore's bats in Saturday's first game against the Pirates, and they couldn't recover from a five-run first-inning deficit in a 5-1 loss. The Spartans bounced back to win the second game of the doubleheader, 5-3. Mark Barron pitched the first four innings and picked up the win.
“Inside, it was getting so boring,” junior Nate Haacker said. “Baseball's an outside sport.”
The Spartans are one of the area's lucky teams. Founders Field, where the DeKalb County Liners played from 2010 up until last season, is particularly conducive to playing after bad weather. The sand base of the field is covered by material that soaks up water from the grass that lies above.
Because of the quality of the field, the Spartans were able to play earlier than any team in the area this season, and three games in the first two weeks of the season were changed from away games to home games. Still, the Spartans only had one practice outside before their first game.
“It's hard to get back into it sitting out,” Haacker said. “It's kind of weird, we're not really used to that.”
“In this kind of weather, you've got to hit balls on the ground, and you've got to hit balls on the right side,” Sycamore coach Jason Cavanaugh said after the first game. “We hit every ball in the air or to the third baseman.”
Next week, the Spartans start their conference season, so there really isn't much time to make up the weeks of games that were postponed. In baseball, the only open days are rain out days for crucial conference games.
Cavanaugh said the Spartans would be lucky to play 30 games, when they usually play at least 35.
“You're playing every day,” Cavanaugh said. “We have five games a week. Three conference games and then a weekend doubleheader, so where are you going to put [the postponed games]?”
But as the wind whipped around during the doubleheader, making it difficult for outfielders to stay warm and almost impossible for fly balls to drop, the Spartans were just happy that, finally, their spring is back to normal, even if this April is a little colder than most.
“Practicing inside is the worst,” Sycamore sophomore Brett Weaver said. “Baseball is the most fun sport to play outside … Inside, it's nothing like baseball. It's like a totally different world inside.”