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Rain giving area coaches the blues

Dry dirt is nowhere to be found. The ditches are full, the creeks are swollen and the rivers are creeping into places that they rarely reach.

The rain that has blanketed our area in recent weeks has made things hard on a working man. Farmers, brick-masons, landscapers, carpenters, painters and loggers are just a few of the jobs that work at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Add baseball and softball coaches to that list, too — the coaches in this area are all stuck in neutral right now, waiting for sun to come back and for their seasons to really get started.

West Lincoln assistant baseball coach Craig “Bowie” Davis is a pied piper for his sport. The brother of longtime Lawrence County coach Tony Davis — Bowie has been coaching high school baseball for 33 years.

He can’t remember a wetter start to a season than this one.

“We’ve hit in the cage until we’re blue in the face,” said Davis of the Bears he coaches along with WL head coach David Gilbert.

“I don’t ever remember having a year like this were we can’t even get on the field to practice, much less play,” said Davis. “We’ve talked about situations that we’ll see in a game and worked on the mental side of things, but that’s all we’ve been able to do.”

The first week of regular season games in the MHSAA was supposed to be this past week, but that was a wash for the local schools.

The MAIS started their season a week earlier and Brookhaven Academy did get two games in on February 13. The Cougars lost 5-3 to Parklane in their opener but bounced back the same night to beat Columbia Academy 9-5. The win was the first for new BA coach Caleb Upton.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College head coach Clay Smith has seen his team already play a whopping four games this season.

The Wolves swept Mineral Area College in a doubleheader on Feb. 15 and lost two games in New Orleans to Delgado Wednesday.

Traditionally teams like Co-Lin could count on snowbirds — schools from the Midwest who are looking for warmer temps — to make up a solid portion of their early season schedule.

Smith was originally planning on playing Frontier Community College from Fairfield, Illinois, this weekend, but called it off to save FCC a long drive that may have been for nothing.

“Frontier was going to drive 12 hours down here and play at Southwest on Friday and us on Saturday,” said Smith. “I felt like we could get our field ready by Saturday with a lot of work, but Southwest wouldn’t have time to be ready to host on Friday. I didn’t want them to drive all that way and then only get two games, so we canceled it. We were lucky to get in with Meridian and Delta and play them at Meridian on Sunday, so we didn’t lose the chance to play this weekend.”

Smith only has 23 dates he can play and that allows his team to get 46 games into their regular season schedule.

CLCC now has the luxury of the turf field at Stone Stadium for practice. That’s allowed Smith and his guys to have somewhere to work when they’re not in the cage.

“We haven’t practiced on our field in two weeks,” said Smith. “Getting live at-bats is very important for us. The more live pitching you face, the better you get and the more comfortable you are at the plate.”

Smith concurs with the estimation from Bowie Davis that he’s never seen a prolonged period of wetness like this to start a season.

Meteorologist Eric Carpenter with the National Weather Service in Jackson confirms that you’re not just imagining things, this has been a historically wet winter.

“Our record keeping goes back to the 1800s and this is one of the top three wettest winters that we’ve ever recorded,” said Carpenter. “The rain totals in January were close to an all-time record and February is on a similar track.”

It’s not just baseball and softball coaches that are dealing with cancelations and schedule shuffling. This weather isn’t exactly what you’re looking for if you’re coaching track, tennis or golf either.

In that case, Carpenter feels your pain.

“I captain an adult tennis team and play on another one,” said Carpenter. “Our time on the court has been very limited this year.”

After I got done talking to Carpenter — a man with a formal education in predicting the weather — I called a man who has a lifetime of studying the skies, my daddy.

In the house that I grew up in, nothing would get you in more trouble than making noise during the 6 p.m. WLBT weather report.

Woodie Assaf was going to read the forecast, it was going to be quick and if you missed it then you had to wait until 10 p.m. to hear it again.

My daddy has been a logger in southwest Mississippi for almost 50 years — this current spate of rain has him nearly speechless.

“This is the longest period of prolonged wet weather that I can remember,” he said. “We’ve only worked a couple days this year. We haven’t had consistently dry weather to work in since October, really.”

What would be his advice to a young person thinking about starting out in a career as a logger?

“I would advise them to find something else to do for a living,” he said.

Logging gets in your blood though as does coaching. This is season number 19 for Loyd Star softball coach Jan Delaughter and there is nothing else she’d rather be doing.

Delaughter just wishes she’d get to practice with her team.

“We got to work in the outfield for a couple days and we’ve obviously worked in our cage, but other than that we haven’t been able to fully practice,” said Delaughter.

The Lady Hornets will have to figure things out on the fly. Saturday at Gulfport High they play Pass Christian at 2 p.m. and Choctaw Central after that.

Loyd Star is then scheduled to play at Florence Tuesday — hopefully.

“I haven’t even checked the weather for next week,” said Delaughter.

Told that there is a 70 percent chance of rain on Monday, her reply comes with a weary chuckle.

“Yeah, that sounds about right.”

Cliff Furr is the sports editor at the Daily Leader. He can be reached at sports@dailyleader.com.