Spring sports squads hoping for warmer temperatures so they can prepare for upcoming season outside
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
It can be a challenging schedule: two weeks of practice, time off for spring break, and then games begin upon return to school. During many recent seasons, the first phase is more difficult because of the weather; teams that play outside have to find ways to prepare for the upcoming spring season inside.
“Hopefully the weather stays like this and when we get back from spring break, just go,” said Sparky Nitchman, Grayling High School Athletic Director, during a recent warm day.
The spring sports season for Grayling High School – a campaign that includes baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, golf, and track – is currently in the preseason practice phase. Official practice sessions started on Monday, March 13.
The baseball program at GHS will have the same coaches as in recent previous seasons: Bret Krabill (varsity) and Dan Mygrants (junior varsity).
Nitchman said the baseball program had 35 kids signed up prior to the beginning of official practice sessions.
The varsity baseball team has a doubleheader scheduled for Thursday, March 23, at 4 p.m. at Harrison. As of Monday, it was unknown whether field conditions and weather would allow the series to be played. (UPDATE: The series vs. Harrison has been cancelled.)
After spring break, the varsity baseball squad has a nonconference home series vs. Kingsley slated for Thursday, April 6, at 4 p.m. The JV team’s season opener is scheduled for April 6 at Kingsley.
Grayling High School replaced its fencing at the baseball field last year, and the continuing effort to improve the facility now includes a new bullpen mound.
Nitchman said the new mound should be ready for the home opener, and it will “give our kids a better warm-up opportunity.”
Baseball in Michigan has new pitching rules this year. Pitch counts must be kept, and specific days of rest are required from pitching after throwing specific numbers of pitches: “76-105 pitches, three days of rest; 51-75 pitches, two days of rest; 26-50 pitches, one day of rest,” according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
There is a max of 105 pitches per day per player.
“That’ll be interesting to see how that pitch count rule goes,” Nitchman said.
Mark Golnick is back as the varsity softball team’s coach. Doug Paulus is the new JV softball coach. Paulus coached 7th grade girls basketball for Grayling Middle School this past winter, and he’s helped coach with several GHS teams.
“We’re excited to have Doug on board,” Nitchman said. “Good coach, good role model.”
The softball program had 30 girls signed up prior to practices.
The varsity softball squad’s first game of the season is slated for Thursday, March 23, at 4 p.m. at Harrison High School. (UPDATE: The scheduled doubleheader vs. Harrison has been cancelled.)
After spring break, the team is scheduled to host Kingsley at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 6. The junior varsity softball squad’s season opener is slated for Thursday, April 6, at Kingsley.
The track program at GHS has Justin Andre and Michelle Moore back as coaches for the 2017 spring campaign.
Nitchman said the track program had 40 kids signed up going into official practice sessions.
The track squad’s first scheduled meet of the 2017 season is slated for Wednesday, April 12, at East Jordan. The team’s only home meet of the year is slated for April 24; it’s a Lake Michigan Conference meet.
The varsity boys golf team has a new coach: Derek Johnston. Johnston was an all-state golfer for the Vikings. In 2004, he placed 7th at the Division III state finals as an individual, and his team took second place as a group at the state meet.
The program had 11 golfers signed up before practices were allowed to begin.
The Vikings have two meets scheduled to be played at their home course, the Grayling Country Club, this year: a Lake Michigan Conference meet on April 26 and the Lake Michigan Conference championship tournament on May 22.
The varsity girls soccer program has a new coach: Grayling Middle School teacher Cyndi Powers.
Nitchman said the soccer group had 23 girls signed up before practices began on Monday.
The soccer team’s season opener is slated for 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, at Harbor Springs. The Vikings will host Traverse City St. Francis on Wednesday, April 12, at 5 p.m.
Mark Sloan is back as coach of the varsity girls tennis team.
The tennis program will get to use the new tennis facility at Grayling High School for the first time this season. The school installed a new playing surface, new nets, and new fencing at the facility late last year.
The program had 22 girls signed up, Nitchman said.
The tennis team has three home meets slated for its first three matches of the year: April 11 vs. East Jordan, April 13 vs. Traverse City Christian, and April 17 vs. Alpena.
Nitchman said he hopes the weather cooperates for the upcoming slate of spring sports games and practices.
“Hopefully it’s just business as usual if the weather holds out,” Nitchman said. “Hopefully we don’t have to reschedule too many games.”