Of rain delays and windmills

First the rundown, then a rant:

The 12th Region baseball and softball tournaments are once again being slow-played, but here’s the up-to-the-minute schedule and other important notes:

Baseball at Boyle County

Today: Semifinals, Danville vs. West Jessamine, 5:30 p.m.; Mercer County vs. Boyle County, 8 p.m.

Friday: Championship, 7 p.m. (if Boyle County plays)

Saturday: Championship, TBA (if Mercer County plays)

The question of whether the title game will be played on Friday or Saturday depends on Mercer, which has graduation scheduled for Friday night. If it is pushed back to Saturday, it’ll be a day game and early enough so that the parking lots can be cleared in time for Boyle’s graduation that night.

Softball at Pulaski County

Today: Semifinals, East Jessamine vs. Garrard County, 6 p.m.; Boyle County vs. Pulaski County, 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Championship, 7 p.m.

No graduation issues here. Pulaski’s graduation is set for Saturday, but it’s at 8:30 a.m., which is a little unusual but something other schools might think about trying.

Of course, all bets are off if another round of rain rolls in, which doesn’t seem likely today but is a possibility Friday night and Saturday.

The regionals should ideally be completed by Sunday at the absolute worst, though I can’t find anything in the postseason guidelines that sets that in stone. In baseball, the regional winner advances to a semi-state series that begins Wednesday at Campbell County, so they would have to finish the tourney by Saturday to ensure that all pitchers get their required rest and are still eligible for the semi-state series opener. There are no such pitching issues in softball, where the regional champ advances to the 16-team state tournament June 6-7 at Owensboro.

Now I get to vent. It’s nothing I haven’t screamed about before, so you have my permission to exit here if you know what’s coming.

Unless it rains a lot — and I don’t mean for 90 minutes on one afternoon — there is no reason why it should take six days to play a regional or softball tournament. None.

I was out of state on Monday, so I don’t have firsthand knowledge of why three of the four regional baseball first-round games were postponed, but people I trust tell me that the rain that came in about 3:30 p.m. went out by 5 and that the field could have been made playable again by 6 or 6:30. And given the fact that Boyle borrowed a tarp that can cover most of the infield, I choose to believe that.

If you have a tarp (check), if you have a holiday in which school hours are not an issue (check) and if you have access to weather radar images (check), where’s the problem in waiting out a rain delay?

Apparently the umpires weren’t interested in doing that after they halted the West Jessamine-Rockcastle County game that was in progress when the rains came, but that shouldn’t have been their call. The umpires have control over stopping and restarting a game in progress, but not over games that haven’t been started yet. And what was their hurry to get out of town anyway?

Monday’s rainouts in baseball and softball brought into play conflicts with graduations at various schools, which are always a problem that must be dealt with this time of year. Garrard’s graduation meant that it took three days to finish the first round of the softball tournament and it will probably take five days to play the entire tournament. That’s three more days than they’ll need, weather permitting, to play the entire 30- or 31-game state tournament next week.

Back at the baseball venue, a perfectly good Wednesday afternoon and evening was squandered because of a conflict with Danville’s graduation. But that ceremony didn’t start until 8 p.m., and it took place less than 2 miles from the tournament site at Boyle, where Danville could have played West Jessamine, a team only 30 minutes away, in a game starting at 4 or 4:30 p.m. and ending in plenty of time for the seniors to get in line. (The Admirals practiced until almost 6 on Wednesday, so they might as well have been playing.) The same could be true tomorrow if there’s a conflict with Mercer, which doesn’t graduate until 8 and needs only 15-20 minutes to get there from Boyle.

These games have to be played some time, and the focus should be on playing them sooner rather than later. I’ve tilted at this windmill before, and I’ll probably do it again. But if God could create heaven and earth in six days, surely these tournaments can be played in three or four.

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