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Published: Thursday, 4/30/2009

Sidelines: Springfield baseball team still waiting for home game

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Springfield baseball team has faced the ultimate road trip this spring.

All 13 of the Blue Devils games have been played on the road because the grass at the school s new varsity baseball field has not yet taken root.

The grass did not come in and right now it is unplayable, said Springfield baseball coach Dave Whitmire, who is in his first season. There is no grass in the outfield. If I m an opposing coach I would not play on it.

The field was supposed to be ready by mid-April.

They ve tried a lot of stuff. Unfortunately Mother Nature did not cooperate and the grass did not take, Whitmire said.

The grass was planted in late September. The baseball diamond is part of the school s new 39-acre athletic complex at Angola and Albon roads. The facility includes five diamonds and two soccer fields. The softball team s field has responded more favorably and the Blue Devils have been able to play all of their home games there.

The baseball team s first 17 games have been scheduled to be played on the road. But now Whitmire said the field may not be ready until the end of May.

If I had to guess, it may be until the last few weeks of the season before it s ready and I still think that is a long shot, Whitmire said. I feel bad for our nine seniors. They also haven t been able to have their fellow students come out and support them.

But Whitmire said he has used the major obstacle as motivation and his players have responded. The Blue Devils are 8-5 overall and 3-2 in the Northern Lakes League. Springfield beat preseason league co-favorite Perrysburg 8-6 on Monday.

We re also trying to teach a little bit about overcoming adversity, Whitmire said. We told them we would not use it as an excuse. We were also picked to finish near the bottom of the barrel [seventh in the NLL]. I m really happy with how they ve responded.

Senior Tony Shepler (3-1, 3.98 era) and junior Bret Seymour have been the leaders on the mound.

Tyler Rudolph (.432) leads the team in hitting, followed by Brock Labelle (.419, 16 RBIs), and Shepler (.382). Tyler Grogg, who has signed to play at the University of Toledo, is hitting .366 and Seymour is batting .333 .

Whitmire said the team has played one home game at Ned Skeldon Stadium in Maumee and has booked the facility for more games next week.

At practices, he said the team throws down bases on one of the soccer fields at the new complex.

We re hitting ground balls to these guys on grass, he said. The hardest thing is not being able to hit live outdoors.

The team also has practiced at St. John s and at Carter Park in Bowling Green.

[The facility] will be nice when all is said and done. It will have a full press box. Both the baseball and softball teams will have their own locker rooms. It s one of the things that attracted me to the job, said Whitmer, who also teaches at the school.

We may have 27 games on the road, he said. If we make some noise in the league and in the tournament, there will be a good story.

The Northern Lakes League got the best of the City League in a head-to-head tournament on Saturday.

The NLL won 12 games and the City won four in the second annual NLL/ City League Softball Challenge at Rolf Park in Maumee. All eight NLL teams and eight of the 12 City teams played two games each.

The NLL won the Challenge Trophy as Anthony Wayne, Rossford, Southview and Springfield each won twice. The Generals, the defending NLL champs, defeated Notre Dame and Clay. Bowling Green, Maumee, Perrysburg and Northview each split their games.

Whitmer was the only City League team to win two games. St. Ursula, the defending CL champs, beat Northview but lost to Rossford.

Southview s Tim Hausfeld and Notre Dame s Jasmine Blanton were the leading scorers for their teams Saturday in the 18th annual Nancy Rehm/Border War Classic in Fort Wayne which pits all-star teams from northwest Ohio and northeast Indiana.

In the boys game, Hausfeld poured in a game-high 30 points in a 116-94 victory. He also had eight assists.

Ethan Michael of Toledo Christian posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Findlay s Luke Krause added 24.

In the girls game, Blanton tallied 17 points, but in a 81-57 loss. Whitmer s Laura Campbell had six points and Perrysburg s Demi Moschetti added four.

Contact Mark Monroe at:mmonroe@theblade.comor 419-304-4760.



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