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Pope: Busy schedules a challenge for pitching staffs

Crown Point's Zach Plesac pitches against Munster second inning Thursday afternoMunster High School.  | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

Crown Point's Zach Plesac pitches against Munster in the second inning Thursday afternoon at Munster High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 5, 2013 6:19AM



Crown Point has one of the top pitching staffs in the area.

Zach Plesac, Ronnie Plesac, Noah Burkholder and David Kepshire each have at least two wins. And the team has an ERA of 2.20.

The Bulldogs arms were put to the test this week.

“We have seven games in six days,” coach Steve Strayer said Monday.

Crown Point is far from alone. Almost every team has had at least one busy week as squads attempt to make-up games lost earlier this spring because of the poor weather.

Some calendars are more stuffed than a Thanksgiving Day turkey.

It could be taxing on a pitching staff. According to infosports.com, a high school pitcher in Indiana “may not throw more than 10 innings in any three consecutive days.” So coaches have to find a way to balance to keep the arms fresh.

“It’s almost like pitching by committee,” Lowell coach Bobby Wong said. “You always want to focus on the game that you’re playing. You don’t want to look too far ahead, but at the same time you have to base it on who you are playing and it’s tough.

“You might throw a guy for a couple of innings and then get him out of there. And then throw a different guy a couple of innings just to save him and at the same time get him some work.”

Lowell pitchers will get plenty of work next week. The Red Devils have games scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and two on Saturday. That will mean a lot of strikeouts, walks, groundouts, foul tips and pickoff throws to first.

“Luckily, next week we don’t play any conference games,” Wong said. “We have a little more leeway. Of course, we still want to win. That’s the main objective. We take it day-by-day and go from there.”

It also helps to have more hurlers ready to go. Crown Point has used seven pitchers. Lowell has six pitchers.

“It’s not going to hurt us as bad this year, but it’s still taxing on some of these kids,” said Wong. The team had four pitchers last season. “There are some kids who throw more innings than others, and they are expected to. And it takes a toll. At the same time, we don’t want to over-throw a kid. It’s a juggling act.”

Kankakee Valley coach Doug Greenlee has the added task of sorting out schedules as the athletic director. He said about 100 games — across sports and levels — have had changes this spring.

“You have a lot of headaches,” he said. “The problem you run into in the springtime is a lack of days. You don’t have as many days to make them up because you are basically talking about an eight-week season, maybe nine.

“And then you run into the situation where you have to play your conference games no matter what, which bumps your other games. It’s a big jigsaw puzzle. You have to be very organized otherwise you’ll get lost.”

And it’s not just the game itself. There are umpires, bus drivers, booster clubs and concessions stand operators that have to be accounted for.

Back on the field, Greenlee has a deep staff (as many as 10 pitchers) to get through the schedule. But the challenge is remaining sharp.

“It’s difficult to stay on top of your game when you are not getting to practice or you are not getting to play games. It causes inconsistencies,” Greenlee said. “We do have routines that we like to follow and ideally, you look at pitch counts and days of rest. But sometimes it gets thrown out the window because of the rainouts and stacking games on top of one another.”

Greenlee couldn’t think of a more difficult spring. Then again….

“My wife says I always say that. She gets tired of me complaining,” he said with a laugh. “I cannot remember one being this brutal. Not only with rain, but with temperature. There have only been a few days where the temperature has been decent enough. It’s a tough situation for everybody.”

Baseball — Greenlee points out — is a game of repetition.

“The more you play it,” he said, “the better you get, I believe.”

Pitchers will have many chances to improve during the next couple of weeks. If the rain holds off.



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