Snow delays Baker softball HAAC play

Leave it to Kansas to produce a late March snowstorm that throws a wrench right in the middle of Baker’s 2009 softball season.

The team had all its conference games canceled going into Thursday’s matchup with Missouri Valley College.

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics rules state all conference games must be played and in the record books by noon on April 22. 

This leaves just slightly more than three weeks for the Wildcats to cram in an entire Heart of America Athletic Conference schedule.

“It’s a possibility that we would play four games – two doubleheaders – in one day,” sophomore Brooke Pryor said. “It could get pretty rough.”

The snow and cancellations couldn’t have arrived at a worse time as the Wildcats have been building on the success they had at the Disney Tournament in Orlando, Fla.

“We’re all hoping the layoff doesn’t hurt,” Pryor said on the implications of the weather cancellations. “Eventually, though, it might hurt our play having to play so many games at one time.”

Head coach Jennifer Rigdon believes the team can react to the midseason interruption in one of two ways.

“I’ve been telling the team we have to stay mentally focused all week,” Rigdon said. “When we come back, we will either come out flat from the break or come out hot. I’m hoping for the latter.”

The silver lining, however, is represented by the return of injured pitcher Chelsi Taylor.  Taylor, a junior, tore her meniscus eight weeks ago and is ready to rejoin the Wildcats Saturday.

Instead of getting the meniscus cut out, which is the most common practice after a tear, Taylor opted to repair the damaged cartilage through surgery.   

“I still don’t push off or drag my leg fully on my pitching motion,” she said. “I would say I’m probably 80 percent.”

Despite not being fully healthy, the Wildcats will appreciate her presence in the pitching rotation. The squad spent the first six weeks of its season with only two pitchers, sophomores Amanda Phelps and Erin Ford.

Phelps has enjoyed a strong season on the mound for the Wildcats, boasting a 3.62 ERA in her 13 games. Ford has an ERA of 5.25 on 21.1 innings pitched.

Baker will begin its conference play squaring off Saturday with No.1-ranked Evangel University at Cavaness Field.

“Everyone in our conference is pretty equal,” Pryor said. “The teams have been beating up on each other. Everyone is splitting series, and only one team has been swept so far.”

Rigdon said the Heart of America Athletic Conference was virtually a toss-up this year.

“When looking at what the conference has this year, there is no clear-cut favorite,” she said. “It will most likely come down to who plays the strongest toward the end of the year.”

The team will host another challenging opponent Sunday – Culver-Stockton College – just one day after Evangel comes to town. 

The Wildcats are 8-11 overall.