HAMMOCK: Providence, Charlton must deal with tough delay in baseball finals

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Providence Christian's senior baseball players knew last week that their graduation present would be a trip to Charlton County, just east of the Okefenokee Swamp in the southeast corner of Georgia.

They just didn't know when that trip would happen. As it turns out, their wait has been longer than anyone expected.

The scheduled Class A state championship matchup was scheduled for last Saturday --the Parkview-Brookwood AAAAA series finished that day -- but it was moved originally from Saturday to Monday to accommodate the Stars' graduation.

Rain and Tropical Storm Beryl then took over.

Each day the Providence players, coaches and fans went through a waiting game, as rain pushed the series to Tuesday, Wednesday and eventually today. They didn't want to make the long trip --500-plus miles, five-plus hours --and then sit around for days in Folkston, so they stayed home until Wednesday afternoon.

After all that waiting, Providence finally gets to play ball today, nine days after their Game 3 semifinal win over Savannah Christian.

The delay presents a unique challenge for the Stars, who had to stay as sharp as possible with the long delay. But Charlton, coached by Meadowcreek grad Thad Marchman, had to endure the same break. It will be interesting to see which team handles that issue better, though Providence at least shouldn't be as in awe of the big stage after finishing as state runner-up to Hebron Christian last year.

We've joked around the office that these seniors are going to be college freshmen by the time the state finals are played, but all kidding aside, this situation puts a brighter spotlight on a problem I've always had with high school baseball. Not the sport itself, but its calendar that is approved by the Georgia High School Association.

Take rain out of the equation, and every year these high school baseball teams are playing well beyond the end of the school year. Sometimes it's less than a week after their classmates finish, sometimes it's more.

Why not bump the start of baseball up a week?

I know it's cold at the beginning of baseball season, but that hasn't stopped the calendar of other spring sports from shifting to an earlier start. Tennis braved the elements this year, starting practice on Jan. 16 and playing matches Feb. 6. Both of those start dates were a full two weeks before baseball, so surely we can find a way to start baseball sooner.

Then maybe baseball players can take post-graduation trips, like their fellow classmates, instead of playing the waiting game.

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock. For Hammock's blog, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willsworld.