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Rain puts damper on local sports

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

(Photo)
Water covers the fairway of the eighth hole at the Sikeston Country Club golf course as it creeps toward the ninth green (left) on Tuesday afternoon. Heavy rains and flooding halted many local high school sports on Monday and Tuesday. David Jenkins, Staff
SIKESTON -- Not only has the relentless downpour of rain wreaked havoc on some homes and roads alike, the thunderstorms have played extreme chaos on the spring sports routine.

Baseball, softball, soccer and golf teams are all feeling the affects of the flash floods that have affected so many others which is driving them to practice in gyms, any dry land they can find or not at all.

"I'll tell you one thing, we're tired of the gym," Sikeston head baseball coach Kevin Self said.

The Sikeston Bulldog baseball team has been driven to the confines of the Sikeston High School girls gym for their practices limiting what they can do to a certain extent.

Water that has backed up from St. John's ditch, which sits just a few yards from VFW Memorial Stadium, has flooded into parts of the baseball field including most of left field. Most of the parking area south of the Stadium is under water as well.

"You can do conditioning-type stuff," Self said, "but working on game-type situations is an outside thing. When you're in the gym three to four times a week you get tired of it. We're trying to get creative on how to keep them motivated."

Taking advantage of a somewhat clear day on Tuesday, the Bulldogs moved their practice to the Sikeston High School football field for a change of scenery. They did what they could on the field, like field pop flys and grounders but not much else can be done while trying to gear up for game at Cape Central today.

"It's awful," said Self. "It's really tough mentally than anything else to try to make yourself work. I don't remember, in 26 years of coaching, a spring that it's consistently rained for this long. Right now it's phenomenal that a lot of teams have played just 10 or 12 games."

In Charleston, the Bluejays have had to battle both rising waters and sewage problems inside Charleston High School. Backed up water has created problems throughout the sewer which has cancelled school Tuesday and today.

Some members of the Charleston Bluejays baseball team have been an asset to the community by helping sand bag and aiding in the evacuations of friends and family.

"I've never seen anything like it," Charleston head coach Michael Minner said. "I've never been apart of anything like this. Hopefully there's light at the end of the tunnel."

Although Hillhouse Park has been luckily saved from most water and remains in decent shape according to Minner, the Bluejays have been confined to hitting drills in the batting cage through the onslaught of rain.

They too are suffering from the lack of actual game-time, which adds much-needed experience in pressure situations.

"We're swinging the bats and pitching well but right now we're trying to find an identity," Minner said. "Until you get in those game situations, you can't work on those key points that wins ball games. And right now, we're not able to do that.

"We're going to be in the gym if it keeps up. We have to stay focused and you can't let the kids get lazy on you."

The Sikeston golf team is just a few days away from district play and would love to get a few rounds in before heading to Crowne Point in Farmington.

However, their home course, the Sikeston County Club, is closed because of the flooding of St. John's ditch which also runs just beside the course.

Waters that have rose above the ditches banks have spilled over into the eighth hole completely covering the fairway leaving an island green surrounded by ditch water.

Although the course is unplayable, the Bulldogs and head golf coach Andy McGill are doing what they can.

"They've been really good about letting us hit off the driving range and letting us do some chipping and putting and things like that," said McGill. "We used the number nine hole which hasn't been affected for bunker work."

The Class 3, District 1 golf district's opening round have been moved back a day to Friday.

McGill said besides working on what little they can, they have talked about how they will attack their district course -- a place they have played on twice before this season."

"We've talked about course management and how we're going to gameplan when we get there," said McGill.

Knowing the course fairly well after their two trips to Crowne Point, where they took second place each time, McGill hopes they can use that experience and their success in unfavorable conditions this year to their advantage.

"We've been successful in wet conditions," McGill said. "We've probably had our most successful tournaments in those types of conditions where it rained the whole time.

"Hopefully with our experience, we can take advantage of that."