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Frontier League scraps spring playoffs

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The severe winter and delayed spring weather, which has forced Frontier League baseball and softball teams to spend the majority of their practice time in the gym and already postponed dozens of league games, has claimed its first casualty.

League athletic directors decided Tuesday morning to cancel the annual Frontier League baseball and softball playoffs, scheduled for May 15-17.

According to league executive director Bob Kowalick, those days reserved for playoffs will be used to hopefully finish an already crowded league schedule before the Section 3 playoffs begin on May 20.

“It may be a little early to cancel the playoffs,” Kowalick said. “But who knows when our fields are going to be ready for play. It could still be two or three more weeks, and if that happened, we’d really be in a bind.”

League games were scheduled to begin as early as March 29. But not a single game in either baseball or softball has been played, and will probably not be played for the rest of this week.

If that is the case, 40 games in each sport will have been wiped off the schedule, forcing the league to make a quick decision on the rest of the season.

The league has put together a new schedule, with games slated to begin after schools return from spring vacation on April 21. That means teams will have only four weeks to complete their league schedules. For “B” Division teams, that means 16 games. “C” Division teams play 15 games, “D” Division play 14 games and “A” Division teams a 12-game slate.

Because of spring vacation, which is April 14-20 this year, the league does not officially schedule league games because in most cases teams would not have enough players available.

However, there are often a few league games scheduled for that week if schools agree. For instance, Carthage is scheduled to play a baseball doubleheader on the turf field at Lowville on April 13.

“We wanted to give our teams every opportunity to finish their league schedules because it may help them draw a better seed in the sectionals,” Kowalick said. “Even before this, we had planned on playing quite a few doubleheaders. Now, we’re going to be playing even more.”

That, especially in baseball, puts a premium on pitching. Teams with the most pitching depth will probably fare a lot better because they will be playing more games a week than usual.

In softball, it’s not quite as big a deal because pitchers can throw almost every game.

“At least now, coaches can make plans for that final week of the season,” Kowalick said. “Often they have to choose between saving their best pitcher for a league game or two, or saving them for the playoffs.”

Teams began practice on March 10, and are in their fourth week of working inside.

A few lucky teams, such as the Watertown, Immaculate Heart Central and South Lewis baseball teams, will be heading south to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for vacation week. That will at least give them a little head start on the season.

“The worst case scenario is if we come back from vacation having played outside for a week and then can’t get on our field to practice or play,” said Watertown coach Matt Covey. “Then it would be like starting the season all over again. That would be awful.”

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