Berkshire County baseball coaches, players playing waiting game

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High school sports might be in limbo. Heading into the final weekend of March, however, high school coaches are not in limbo.

In fact, some Berkshire County baseball coaches have spent some of their "down time" planning ahead.

"For the first two weeks [of the season], we've always been inside, just because of the weather. That's out the window now, if we in fact go back to play," said Mount Greylock coach Steve Messina. "I've thought about the routine, the structure that we use to practice. We start kind of from the ground up, which is actually very easy to do when we're inside. It's much more difficult to do when you're outside. It's something that I feel like we have to continue to do. It rearranges and changes the scope of practice when we're doing the indoor things outside.

"I have thought about that and trying to figure out ways to get these things done in probably a week's worth of time instead of three weeks, which is what we typically get."

Messina and his fellow baseball coaches still have not been given the go-ahead to begin practicing and then, by extension playing games.

According to a release from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association on Thursday, the status of spring sports will be addressed by the MIAA's Board of Directors on a conference call Monday. The call was made necessary because on Wednesday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued a mandate that all schools remain closed until May 4. There is still no word on when high school spring sports will start, or if they will start.

The season was supposed to have started on Monday, March 16, for all spring sports. Over the past several seasons, that has meant gymnasium sessions for baseball teams because of cold weather and/or snow on the ground. In 2020, it would have meant being outdoors for tryouts and the first several practices were it not for the schools being closed and the social distancing policies in place.

For Messina and the Greylock players, indoors this year would have meant a return to Williams College's Towne Field House, which was under renovation 12 months ago and off limits.

"I'm thinking that our backs are against the wall," said Messina, who will be entering his 29th season as the Greylock coach. "We have a lot of stuff we have to do in a really short period of time, without that confined space, which makes it's easier.

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"It's a whole new ballgame, no pun intended here."

Seamus Morrison is slated to start his fifth season as the baseball coach at Pittsfield High School. Like Messina, Morrison said he has been thinking about what he will do if the Generals gather at Clapp Park to begin the season.

"One of the best things about being a coach and looking at the game in a coach's eye is just looking at so many different scenarios, so many different plays," he said. "This year, I spent so much time looking at the new rules and scenarios that could effect the games and a lot of the safety stuff that we've been getting."

Morrison said he's been on the computer looking for things that could help his team, should the season get going.

"I'm always watching coaching tips and hitting tips and different drills for fielding," Morrison said.

Messina said that he's always watching tapes.

"I've been doing that for a really long time," he said. "I actually do that when we go to Florida to see the Red Sox — not to see the Red Sox, but we go to Florida and part of that is to see the Red Sox. I'm videotaping the drills and bringing them back. There's always something a little new. The kids coming back year after year, they want to see a little something fresh and a little something new, which keeps them excited about it. I'm always kind of doing it for that.

"At this point, I've got to put a few things under my belt, as far as all those drills go."

Messina and Morrison, like all high school baseball coaches across Massachusetts, are looking to learn what they've picked up and are ready to teach it to their players — whenever the season starts.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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