Prep baseball teams are finally getting some relief.
It may not be in the form of good weather, but the WIAA is relaxing some restrictions to help baseball teams complete their conference schedules, while continuing to protect young arms.
Baseball teams will be allowed to reduce the number of innings played in a game to five, and if need be, can complete their conference schedules during the WIAA tournament season once a school is eliminated from the postseason.
This relief, however, doesn’t change the seven innings-in-three days pitching rule.
“I think it would be a particular help at the JV or freshmen levels, where we typically don’t have lights,” Appleton West athletic director Mark McQuade said of the change to shorter games. “We want to get the kids quality playing time and not overstressing anyone’s arms.
“The WIAA earlier said softball can do that. Softball is a little different because stress on the arm isn’t quite the same as a baseball pitcher.”
McQuade said West’s varsity baseball team won’t be affected unless the weather continues to prevent teams from playing.
“We haven’t decided to go to that at the varsity level, but it certainly helps us out at the lower levels,” McQuade said. “I don’t know if we were in danger of scrapping the whole thing, but we seriously would have to look at modifications (if the bad weather continues). This certainly will help moving forward. Bottom line, we want to give the kids a quality experience and, hopefully, this helps in some small way.”
The Fox Valley Association will meet soon to see if it will use this modification at the varsity level.
“I think if it were to determine a varsity conference championship, we would look at finishing those up after the WIAA tournament season as teams get eliminated,” McQuade said.
Hortonville athletic director Andy Kolosso said his school hasn’t reached a critical junction with the weather yet either, but that could change.
“We haven’t really had problems here at Hortonville but if we keep having rain, it’s going to get that way,” Kolosso said. “It comes down to we have a small window to get our games played. I see (the WIAA ruling) as a very positive thing.”
Because the Olympian Conference has reduced its conference schedule from 14 to seven games, Brillion athletic director Pete Kittel said he also sees the lower levels benefiting more from the change than the varsity.
“We as a conference have already reduced our conference schedule,” Kittel said. “We are playing one round in our conference instead of two. The conference games don’t start until this Friday. That was our first solution. I do like the idea, especially for baseball. At the lower levels you often run out of arms.”
Brillion was to have played its first baseball game on Monday, so making up games after a team’s postseason is a real possibility.
“Softball, we’ve gotten a couple in,” Kittel said of the Lions’ spring schedule. “I think that gives you the option. The number of games you have to make up is reduced. But you definitely don’t want to do it until you are eliminated from the postseason.”
Although the WIAA has received requests to move state tournament dates farther into June, the organization said that was not an option.
–Dan Kohn: 920-993-1000, ext. 305, or email@example.com; On Twitter @PCDanKohn