Prep baseball, softball schedules revamped

by Bruce Strand, Sport editor

With almost the first month of the season wiped out by winter weather, the baseball and softball schedules at Elk River and  Zimmerman have been revamped.

At Rogers, less modification is needed because they have a shorter conference schedule.

Elk River’s Northwest Suburban Conference has scrapped the first half of the conference schedule and will play just a single round robin, using the second half of the schedule, said Mike Cunningham, Elk activities director.

“If teams can add other games against conference teams, they can play them as non-conference games,” said Cunningham.

Zimmerman’s Granite Ridge Conference still intends to play a full conference schedule, but the schools have thrown out their original schedules.

“We have deleted every schedule,” said Jaime Hilyar, Thunder activities director. “We’re starting over.”

A new conference schedule with double-headers is being crafted, he said, and teams will work around the conference schedule to pick up any non-conference games.

Meanwhile, Rogers has less of a problem because the Mississippi 8 has only six schools.

“We’re not getting pounded as hard as 10- or 12-team conference,” said Dan Ohlgren, activities director. He said the only policy change was to schedule doubleheaders the second time through the schedule for any game postponed from now on.

Elk baseball hopes to open with one and possibly two non-conference home games Saturday.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed for Saturday,” said coach Ryan Holmgren, referring to the condition of the field.

Along with the regularly-scheduled Hopkins game at 11 a.m., the Elks hope to play Bemidji at about 4 p.m. Bemidji plans a trip to the metro area for another game earlier.

Elk softball postponed games set for Monday and Wednesday, but Hopkins on Thursday at home is not yet scratched. The Elks also hope to play their annual Friday night fund-raising game at Orono Park, against Champlin Park at 7:30 p.m.

Zimmerman’s next scheduled baseball game that hasn’t been postponed is Tuesday against Milaca at home. Thunder softball hopes to open Saturday at a tournament in Rockford.

At Rogers, the baseball and softball teams’ scheduled games against Big Lake at home Thursday are still on. If they can’t be played, next up would be Friday against Princeton at home for softball, and Saturday against Duluth East at home for baseball.

How unusual has this April been with regard to high school sports? For perspective, Holmgren posed that question last week to Hall of Famer Tink Larson, who coached Waseca for 45 years and has been an assistant for five years at Minnesota State (Mankato). Larson said that in 50 years of coaching baseball the latest his team ever started was April 19. This year the teams are still hoping for April 25, 26 or 27.