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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Highlands Spring Sports Teams Battle Weather

Temperatures Warm Up This Week

Contributed Photo. Highlands sophomore Jackson Hopper gets in position in a recent match. The Highlands boys tennis team finished 13-4 during the regular season playing most of its scheduled 21 matches despite the bad weather.
It has not been easy to get games in this spring with the excessive rain and cold weather for the Highlands sports teams.

Both the Highlands baseball and softball teams are allowed to play 36 games during the regular season. But it does not look like either team will come close to that. The Bluebirds baseball team is 15-7 and the softball team is 10-7.

The baseball team saw its first four game cancelled and six of its first seven games, but did make up the game against Campbell County on April 6. Highlands has seen 12 games cancelled. But the Bluebirds have made up three of those games. The baseball team can play four straight days but not every day on a Monday through Thursday per Kentucky High School Athletic Association rules.

Highlands Baseball Head Coach Jeremy Baioni said the Bluebirds played their 20th game on May 1 last year. The 11-3 over Scott on Tuesday marked the 21st game this season.

"I was actually shocked to see we were on schedule close to where we were last year," Baioni said. "We didn't get 36 in last year, which is always tough to do. This year, I think we're on pace for 30. But with the schedule restraints and the amount of rain we've had, I don't know if very many are going to get 36 in this year. The thing with the weather is everyone is in the same boat. Even teams that have turf were struggling to get games in for a while because it rained all day."

The Bluebirds have played three games this week as the temperatures warmed up. They went 2-1 in those games.

"When it warms up, guys throw harder," Baioni said. "The feel more loose. Swings get a little bit quicker."

The Bluebirds again have the depth to make another run at a 9th Region title. They've won it the last three years and finished state runner-up in 2015.

"Repetition is always nice, especially when it comes to baseball," said Grady Cramer, Highlands junior. "When you have to wait three days for your next day to play a game, it is very hard to get into a groove."

The Highlands softball team is 10-7 on the year. The squad has 11 games left on the schedule. Luckily for Highlands, Winkler Field drains well.

"We're trying to get repetition, get games in," said Rob Coffey, Highlands Softball Head Coach. "Our schedule is going to be full at the end of the year because we still have some district games to get in. We're getting on the email trying to find teams to play."

Softball teams can only play four days in a row without a break in Kentucky. But Coffey admitted it is tough balancing the schedule with games and practices.

"We have to take what we're experiencing in games and fix it or improve on it or do things that we're able to execute so when that time comes in the big games or in the big tournaments, we can do what we need to do," Coffey said. "We have a young team. I purposely don't schedule a full week every week because of the age of our team."

The Highlands sports teams have the luxury of practicing in the Field House or the Fitness Center. The Field House has been around for three years.

"The field house has been a great tool for us," said Alyssa Dixon, Highlands senior. "On rainy days when other teams are sitting at home, we're in the field house getting swings in, getting reps. It just helps us get better when we're able to practice and other teams aren't."

Highlands girls track and field Head Coach Brian Alessandro said the first meet the team went to was really cold. He said there have also been meet cancellations and even times when the team left after certain events. Alessandro is not afraid to cancel practice if the weather is questionable. He pointed out it was cold during Spring Break.

"For me, practices are really more important," Alessandro said. "I didn't realize our weather would be so terrible for so long. The more race experience you have is important. But you do what you can."

The Highlands tennis teams each had 21 matches scheduled this year. The boys finished the regular season at 13-4 and the girls will play St. Henry on Thursday to finish the regular season.

"We've played several doubleheaders in order to get these in as well as moved location in order to find open courts and get matches in, especially 10th Region opponents," said Kris Laskey, Highlands Head Coach. "Several of our opponents since (Spring) break had played about half the number of matches Highlands had so I feel pretty good about the success we had in getting most of our rain outs rescheduled. Three of the girls opponents ended up forfeiting anyway due to lack of players on their teams, so we really got most of them rescheduled."

The tennis teams play in the region tournament next week while the track teams run in the region meet a week from Friday.

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