Thomas University athletic director Mike Lee isn’t thrilled with the recent weather woes.
His baseball squad opens the season on Saturday with a two-game series against Montreat College. The Night Hawks have only practiced three times through the 10 intended sessions since players reported on Jan. 2. They were forced to cancel Wednesday’s practice to coincide with the university’s brief closure because of icy area roads.
“That automatically eliminates any university activities, including baseball,” Lee said. “There’s things I’d like to be doing but we’ve just got to deal with it and move on.”
Thomas, however, might not be at the greatest disadvantage. Montreat, located outside Asheville, N.C., endured temperatures in the single digits on Wednesday morning and the baseball team has hit the field just twice in the past month.
“It’s been rougher on them than it has on us,” Lee said. “But I think this time we’ll go on even footing. We might have a slight advantage because we’ve been outside, but they usually come in pretty prepared.”
Montreat has the luxury of an indoor facility where it’s been able to bulk bullpen and batting cage work. Thomas has relied on facilities at area high schools, including Thomasville and Thomas County Central.
Thomas has already contacted Montreat and crafted back-up plans should Mother Nature spoil the series this weekend, though Lee believes that unlikely.
He said the Thomas baseball stadium has above par irrigation and that conditions will be fine as long as rain presents the only problem. This weekend’s forecast calls for only a 10 percent chance of precipitation on Saturday and zero on Sunday; both days will see temperatures in the 70s.
“As long as we practice on Friday, we should be good,” Lee said.
Lee added that while the setback has been frustrating, he’s glad Thomas hurdled at the start of the season rather than during the thick of SUN Conference play.
He recalled last year’s series with Embry Riddle in February, which was postponed to the last weekend of the season. Embry Riddle arrived on Thursday for games on Friday and Saturday, but hadn’t even conducted a batting practice before leaving mid-weekend.
Non-conference games are not required for rescheduling, although Thomas works to accommodate such situations. Sun Conference contests, however, must be played – regardless of circumstance. That presents a problem when matters of class, travel and rest are on the line.
“Absolutely, it’s frustrating,” Lee said. “Once you get into conference play, it becomes harder to schedule later in the year.”
After this weekend, the Night Hawks will play eight road games, including three doubleheaders at Florida Memorial, Webber International and Spring Hill over the next three weeks before their next game in Thomasville against Faulkner on Feb. 21.