The baseball team faces many challenges as reigning state champion, but their biggest one may be the weather.
The weather in February and early March is typically pretty harsh. With spring sports starting in below freezing temperatures, Malvern’s teams have lots of difficulties, especially baseball.
When the PAISA state champion baseball team starts practicing this year they are about one month away from getting on the baseball field. The fields are frozen and all of the spring sports teams must share the turf field on the Pelligrini Sports Complex.[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]
“Penn Charter has drop down batting cages in their gym, Episcopal has indoor cages on campus, and Haverford has a turf baseball field and a fieldhouse, so we are a little bit behind regarding facilities.”
Coach Fred Hilliard[/pullquote]
While waiting for the baseball diamond to dry up, the team must make best use of its available resources. Once the wrestling season finishes the baseball team uses a batting cage inside of Alumni Hall. They also workout in the weightroom, hold pitching practices in the Dougherty Gym, and sometimes use off campus indoor facilities. However, practicing off campus has its difficulties.
“The problem with using the off campus facilities is that those are all businesses,” said Fred Hilliard, head coach of the varsity team. “They book up months in advance and we can’t do that because we don’t know what the weather is going to be like. We don’t want to spend money if we are not going to use those places.”
Malvern’s team tries to book as late as possible and hope there is an open slot. “Sometimes we’ll have to go in at 7 a.m. and other times not until 8 or 9 at night,” Hilliard said.
When at Malvern, the team can do hitting in the cages, some minor fielding stations, pitching stations, but they cannot get the feel for being on the field.
“On the field, balls bounce a different way, you can build a stronger connection with the team, and it gives it a game-like feeling,” sophomore pitcher Billy Corcoran said.
The other schools in the Inter-Ac have the same weather, but some schools can handle it easier.
“Penn Charter has drop down batting cages in their gym, Episcopal has indoor cages on campus, and Haverford has a turf baseball field and a fieldhouse, so we are a little bit behind regarding facilities,” Hilliard said.
During the fall, the baseball team can use the new outdoor batting cages on campus, but league rules restrict the coaches from working with more than 3 players at a time. Once the weather turned, they haven’t been able to use the outdoor cages.
“I’ve had some ideas to hold tryouts in the fall on a Sunday, so we can play on the field rather than the turf. It would also help to have them in the fall because kids are coming off of baseball season,” Hilliard said. “They are probably in better shape in the fall than when they are not able to play in the winter.”
This has not yet been approved to happen since people are in their fall sports season, but it could settle the challenge of playing in February when you can hardly feel your fingers.