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Saturday’s not exactly all right for playing

SFL baseball moved away from mandated dates with good intentions this spring, but new problems have surfaced
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Sierra Foothill League baseball coaches, mandated by the Sac-Joaquin Section to play the first two games of their three-game series on back-to-back days to start each week, voted to play Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday instead.

Heading into the second of five Saturdays, they aren’t as happy now.

“Maybe this isn’t all we bargained for,” Granite Bay coach Pat Esposito said.

The SFL wanted to play Tuesday, Thursday and Friday but was given Monday, Tuesday and Thursday this year by the section office, based on an annual rotationg.

“If every school played on Friday, there wouldn’t be enough umpires to go around,” section director of communications Will DeBoard said.

Nine of the 13 leagues in the greater Sacramento area play league games on Fridays, a total of 31 games each Friday. Two leagues schedule all over the map, another plays Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the SFL is the lone league playing Saturdays.

SFL coaches didn’t like the mandated setup for various reasons, including starting the school week with games on back-to-back days in addition to starting new lessons and chapters in class.

“We didn’t think it was educationally sound to play Mondays and Tuesdays,” Esposito said. “You have a kid playing a game, he has homework that night, then you come back and play a Tuesday game.”

The coaches, with subsequent approval by the league’s athletic directors, decided to give Saturdays a go since they run some kind of practice already.

“Just make sure it’s before noon,” Del Oro coach Jeff Dietrich said of the start times, noting the desire to get done early and spend the remainder of the weekend with family.

Only it didn’t turn out like that last Saturday. Roseville and Granite Bay had to move back first pitch to 1 p.m. because of ACT testing at Roseville and still had proms last Saturday night. Woodcreek is issuing its SAT test May 4.

“At first, I was OK with it, but it became a pain in the butt. Saturday, you have a two-hour practice (anyway) but not all that other stuff,” Woodcreek coach Eric Valencia said, noting required field prep before and after games that turns a two-hour game into a four- or five-hour day. “It’s a good idea but not for high school kids. That’s six days a week now.”

Valencia suggested booking one special Saturday, when all six teams would meet and play three games at one site.

“Everyone would watch,” he said.

Under the initial plan, students would have been excused from class early twice each week and, as Roseville coach Hank DeMello pointed out, two days in a row.

DeMello said he isn’t “fond” of the 11 a.m. start time. With first pitch at 1 p.m. last Saturday, he and his Tigers had plenty of time to have Clancy Field properly prepped.

On the other hand, the Tigers shared the complex, including parking, with Roseville West Little League at Richards Field and girls softball.

Said DeMello, “It makes for a long work week.”

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.