By Tony Miler, Sports Editor
If you’re keeping score at home, it’s Mother Nature 4, Maple Leafs 0.
Four, as in the number of games (doubleheaders against Lourdes and Concordia) postponed or canceled this spring because of weather. Zero, as in the number of games the Maple Leafs baseball team has played on the baseball diamonds of Michiana since it returned from a spring-break trip to Florida two weeks ago.
With the snows of early March placed hopefully behind them, Goshen will attempt to begin its seasons this weekend as baseball hosts Cardinal Stritch University for a three-game series and softball plays host to a twinbill with Lourdes. Recent wintry precipitation may render even those contests unplayable, but this publication will remain optimistic that they will happen.
The Maple Leafs are quickly running out of time to prepare for conference play, especially on the baseball side. That’s because conference play will be upon us in less than a week, as Goshen opens the Crossroads League portion of its schedule on Tuesday at Taylor. The league plays 36 conference games — believed to be the most of any college conference, at any level, in the country — and Goshen will handle the 40-day season with a roster of only 17 players.
If there can be a silver lining to such shorthandedness, it is experience. The Leafs will certainly have the chance to gain some of that, as eight of the 17 players are first-years. They will also have some in the tank already: more than three-fourths of last years’ innings pitched return. Among this year’s hurlers, eight came away from the Florida trip allowing fewer than five runs per seven-inning game; among the players who do damage with the bat rather than prevent it, five hitters are north of a .250 batting average.
There is apparently reason to be optimistic that Goshen can improve on its 13-36 (.265) winning percentage of a year ago, the final season of Eric Screeton’s two-year head coaching tenure. And with seven games scheduled for broadcast on 91.1 the Globe, in addition to anything that may be added from other schools’ outlets, there is hope that the Maple Leafs’ triumphs under first-year head coach Alex Childers can be broadcast to the world.
Next week, we’ll look at the 2013 softball campaign in this space.