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Baseball coaches still having to maintain fields

Even though baseball season was cancelled prior to local teams even starting district play due to the ongoing pandemic, the coaches of local teams are still caring for the fields and facilities.

Picayune Head Coach Evan Nichelson said that during a regular season he’d have to mow the grass every other day, while having to put off other projects due to the time constraints of being in season.

However, with the season cancelled and the field not being used, Nichelson said he’s down to mowing just twice a week while starting on some other jobs.

“In season we don’t have time to do projects or anything. Since we’re not playing we’ve been game planning about doing some housekeeping things with the locker room and doing a few things in there, little projects,” Nichelson said.

Making sure things are kept up to date and properly maintained isn’t cheap for the teams.

Poplarville Head Coach Slade Jones said the program typically spends about $1,500 on grass alone prior to the season, which doesn’t include other maintenance projects and costs, like rebuilding the pitcher’s mound after every game.

Like Nichelson, Jones said he and his staff have been using the downtime to check things off the to do list they wouldn’t normally be able to get done during this time of year.

“It’s a better opportunity to do extra projects like flattening the outfield. There are other things like taking down old fencing, rebuilding bullpens and getting a new (batting) cage put in. The silver lining in all this is that it has provided time to do those things,” Jones said.

Things like fertilization, replacement of grass, replacing sprinkler heads and other projects have been moved to the forefront.

The normal wear and tear of a baseball season on a field and equipment isn’t something programs are having to deal with currently, but Nichelson said it’s still important to spend time at the facilities to keep things in check.

“The fields have to be mowed twice a week and we try to stay on top of edging in season otherwise they get real hairy. You have to be out there once, twice a week to be on top of things otherwise the place goes downhill in a hurry,” Nichelson said.

Athletes and coaches who would normally be busy during this time of year are instead stuck at home waiting on a sense of normalcy to return due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Nichelson, the freedom of being able to go to the field and work has helped with the cabin fever.

“I’ve always enjoyed working on the field and making the place better. I don’t look at it as a burden. I enjoy going out there. It’s kind of peaceful at times,” Nichelson said.

There is still the possibility of summer ball occurring, but Jones said he and his assistants are currently working under the expectation that might not occur.

Either way things have to be kept in shape just in case the Hornets have the opportunity to get back on the field in the coming weeks.

“We’re not even thinking about summer ball because we’re closed. We’re trying to bounce back and get things done (now), so we can be strong next year,” Jones said.