Howard Herman: Now, let's really get spring started

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That light we saw in the sky the past couple of days was, I do believe, the sun. That means our long, national nightmare of not being able to have spring sports weather appears to finally be behind us.

The one issue with the spring high school and college sports season is that once you get a couple of days of rain, everything gets condensed. That means there could be days with more events than you could ever get to.

So, in an effort to provide a public service, I have looked through the schedule for the next several weeks to pick out some of the events you should get out to view.

First among equals are games involving Pittsfield and Taconic baseball. The Generals and Braves will be heading across the state line to play games at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy, N.Y.

The Braves go first, and play Columbia on Friday, April 29, at 7 p.m. One week later, Pittsfield will face Averill Park at 4 p.m. That date is Friday, May 6, if you don't have a calendar in front of you.

These games will be the only regular-season contests where you have to pay to get in. Tickets will be $5 each and all the money generated by the ticket sales and team fundraising will benefit Coaches vs. Cancer and the TriCity ValleyCats Charitable Foundation.

Last year, Pittsfield, Taconic, Hoosac Valley and Wahconah shared a frigid day at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, N.Y. Pittsfield schools athletic director Jim Abel said that he'd like to see his teams make a return trip soon.

"It's not only a unique experience for the kids to be able to play at a professional stadium, but it's also a chance for them to use the game they love as a means of giving back," Taconic coach Kevin Stannard said in a statement released by the Pittsfield Public Schools.

For those of you who don't remember, the ValleyCats used to be the Pittsfield Astros and before that the Mets. The team is still owned by Bill Gladstone and Rick Murphy. Murphy, the former Taconic High School and Boston College baseball standout, should be given the honor of throwing out ceremonial first pitches at both games.

While those games are spotlight affairs, they aren't the only big games coming up.

Taconic will travel to Westfield on Monday to play one of two Western Massachusetts teams in the ESPNBoston.com state baseball rankings. Westfield is ranked 14th while West Springfield is 18th.

On Wednesday, softball fans will get a chance to see how MCLA pitcher Rachel Quackenbush can stand up against a Williams team that can really hit. The doubleheader starts at 3:30 in Williamstown.

Lacrosse takes center stage on April 26 and 27 as Mount Greylock and Wahconah go back-to-back. The boys play in Dalton on the 26th, and the girls play in Williamstown on the 27th.

There will be a really interesting high school softball showdown on May 2, when Pittsfield hosts Mount Everett. These are two of the top softball teams in Berkshire County and in their Western Massachusetts divisions.

The next day, college baseball steps into the spotlight when Williams plays at MCLA. Both teams have struggled to find solid footing this year, which could make the game interesting to watch.

Since tennis and track are just getting started, it might be a couple of days premature to start looking ahead to their respective schedules.

Remember this, it's only six weeks until tournament committees sit down in their smoke-filled rooms (sorry for the convention reference) and seed the worthy tourney teams. Six weeks isn't a lot of time to get out, and that timeframe will shrink if the weather gets bad again.

So let's all be thankful that it feels like spring for our spring sports.

Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.


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