13-day deluge leaves playing fields swamped State tourney officials recall no spring like this one; Softball


Jill Masterman is ready to throw in the towel. The soaking wet towel.

"Mother Nature needs to relent a little bit. We get the point," said Masterman, director of the state softball tournament committee. very respectful, but enough is enough."

Rain, that is. For 13 consecutive days, rain has fallen in the Baltimore area, tying a record set in 1894. Playing fields have become so saturated that there is standing water everywhere.

"My field looks like a pond," said Bob Broccolino, softball coach of top-ranked Glen Burnie.

"In my tenure on the committee I don't ever recall constant rain like this at the end of the year," said Masterman, who has served on the softball committee for 14 years, the last eight as director.

In a weather-perfect world, region semifinal games would be held today. But the truth is, 36 first-round games and 59 quarterfinal games still need to be played.

"We need to get in 95 games on Wednesday and Thursday," said Masterman, who added that four first-round games have been completed. "We'll play 31 semifinals on Friday and 16 finals on Saturday."

Doubleheaders -- first- and quarterfinal-round games -- have been scheduled for today. However, with a steady rain falling yesterday, it's unlikely most games will be played.

"The bulk of the games won't be played," said Masterman, a specialist in the office of athletics for Baltimore County schools.

The rain was expected to end by this morning, giving grounds departments around the area time to work on the fields.

"I've been here 12 years and I've never seen the fields saturated like they are at this time of the year," said Bob Harrison, manager of the grounds department for Howard County schools.

Harrison said his crews will use the product Turface to help make the infields playable. "I think we'll be OK for Thursday if it stops raining by [this] morning," Harrison said. "We'll give it our best shot."

The postponements mean some teams may have to play four games in three days. But River Hill senior Holly Gick said that shouldn't be a problem for most pitchers.

"I don't think it's a disadvantage for me because I pitch that in tournaments during the summer," said Gick, whose 15-4 Howard County team is ranked 10th in the area. "It's only normal to get tired, but it doesn't hurt."

Gick said not playing has been "very frustrating. You wake up every morning and wonder if you're going to play. But everyone in the county has to go through it, too. You just have to wait it out."

Most teams have not played in over a week, and keeping the athletes focused is a prime concern for coaches.

"I constantly talk to them about remaining focused, and to keep the goals we have in mind," said Broccolino.

If all goes as scheduled, the state tournament will take place Tuesday and Friday of next week at Randazzo Park.

Pub Date: 5/13/98

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