Fighting the rain is a challenge for Greylock, St. Joe softball


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Coaches shuffled back and forth in the rain, tossing softballs in a bit of cooperation at Mount Greylock Regional High School.

"We trade them in the towel every time so they don't get wet," said Mounties assistant Brian Flagg. "We could throw them on the ground if we want to, but that's kind of Bush league. So we don't do that."

There was no gamesmanship on Wednesday between Greylock and St. Joseph in conditions that got miserable as the afternoon wore on. Flagg made regular handoffs with Crusaders assistant Tom Murphy during the water-logged contest. The game was called in the top of the fourth with the Mounties leading 1-0. No makeup date has been announced.

Both coaches stayed busy throughout the afternoon as the rain picked up. Murphy had a towel slung over his neck, constantly drying a couple balls at a time. Flagg kept his towel dry while he was coaching the bases, giving it to a bench player to stick under a jacket.

St. Joe pitcher Chanler Hospot said keeping the ball dry -- despite her coach's best efforts -- can be a losing battle in a driving rain.

"It's hard to release. You have to have a good grip on it," Hospot said. "It really doesn't work. I have to dry it off myself up there with my glove. [Catcher] Hannah [Kibbe] has to throw it back fast so it doesn't get wet again."

Greylock pitcher Heather Tomkowicz said she hates playing in the rain, especially pitching. When the ball becomes wet, it gets really hard to hold the ball, she said.

Some of that can be mental, too. Flagg said if a pitcher thinks a ball is wet, that's as bad as if it actually is.

"If she wants a new ball, you've got to call timeout and give her a new ball," Flagg said. "Eighty percent of the game starts right there in the circle. It starts with the pitcher."

Murphy reminded Kibbe to check with Hospot several times to see if she needed a new ball. Sometimes the pitcher shook off the offer, other times gladly taking a fresh one from Murphy's towel.

The assistant coach's daughter, Julia, has been pitching since she played at the youth level, so this wasn't the first time the elder Murphy had to rub down softballs. By the end of the game, he had a good system going.

"You've got to stay on top of it," he said. "You've got to be ready at all times. It's fun. ... Youth leagues when we get bad weather, you've got to be ready. That's why you've got to come with the towels. You've got to be prepared."


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