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Looking to break out

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 9:22 p.m. CDT

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Soccer balls can be found in the halls. The tennis team stretching in the balcony of the main gym, with the softball team taking infield practice right below them and the sophomore team hitting in the cages in the wrestling room.

Meanwhile, the track team lifts in the District 101 Recreation Center, and three levels of baseball practice on top of each other in the fieldhouse.

That's the reality of things right now at Morris Community High School, as well as most every northern Illinois high school, as the spring season is set to kick off next week. None of which was made any easier by a rather harsh snowfall that fell on the area on Tuesday, canceling school and practices.

"We're running on top of each other with gym schedules right now," Morris Athletic Director George Dergo admitted.

The spring season is officially "scheduled" to start when the Redskins host Hall next week in soccer, with baseball and softball hoping to go in the ensuing weeks — that is, if the fields can handle what is sure to be a rather large melt-off.

"Soccer is actually easy to get ready, that is if you can get out and line the fields," Dergo said. "They can play in the mud if they have to, but you don't want to tear up the field for the whole year. But if things even moderately dry up we can get soccer out there."

Which is where the spring sports athletes are wanting to be right now.

"Last year we had a great year weather wise and I think we were outside on the first day of practice," Morris baseball coach Todd Kein said. "Obviously this year is a complete turnaround from that. The goal now is to just get out a little before the first game and we feel that we'll be in good shape. We know our field can handle bad weather real well, but that's not the thing right now."

"The weather doesn't affect the track teams too much at this point, and tennis will get out there as soon as the courts are dry, but baseball and softball is just going to have to wait for the conditions to improve," Dergo said. "There's really nothing you can do about that."

Nothing except keep an eye on the forecast.

"It is supposed to warm up this weekend, but it's a matter of the fields being dry enough," Morris softball coach Jen Lowery said. "The snow might be gone then but then it might be a mud hole."

While the ball teams are in neutral as far as getting on their actual fields, in the meantime, they are going to have to improvise if they want to practice outside.

"The first place we always go is the tennis courts if they don't have the nets up yet," Kein said. "That's worked out for us in the past. It's not ideal, but it is one place to go when it is nice enough to take the team outside."

In other words, just about any paved place will work.

"If the snow is clear, we'll take them out to the parking lot and try to hit live fly balls," Lowery said. "Grounders we can do a little bit, but it doesn't really do a lot of good on cement. But it is good for the outfielders to get outside. That's where we would go just to get the team outside."

Lowery said there is only so much work a pitcher can get in when stuck inside and Kein concurs that there is no place like being on the field.

"There is only so much you can do indoors," he said. "In the fieldhouse, you can hit the infielders grounders. You can also go over situations. But there are only so many ground balls you can hit them right now."

The Morris soccer team is scheduled to open the season on Tuesday at home against Hall. Meanwhile, the baseball team opens on March 13 at Wilmignton and the softball team on March 21 at Dwight.

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