BANGOR, Maine — The lingering winterlike weather that has beset the Northeast continues to wreak havoc on the schedules of Maine college sports teams.
The University of Maine on Thursday announced it has canceled its America East baseball weekend series against UMass Lowell and Saturday’s home track and field meet in Orono because of unplayable conditions.
UMaine’s home softball series against UMass Lowell has been moved from Kessock Field in Orono to a field in Lowell, Mass.
“We’ve exhausted every option we can,” said UMaine baseball coach Steve Trimper, who explained there are approximately three inches of ice covering Mahaney Diamond, which has been cleared of most of the snowcover. “They have not stopped working on our field since last Saturday.”
The Husson University softball team doesn’t have to worry.
The Eagles have switched Saturday’s nonleague doubleheader against Brandeis University from O’Keefe Field in Bangor, which is unplayable, to UMaine’s Mahaney Dome.
“We played Merrimack in a preseason game in college,” said first-year Husson coach Kristie Hawkins, who played at UMaine. “We set the field up in the back corner. It definitely works.
“At this point, we just want to get the games in,” she said.
Hawkins said there will be special ground rules pertaining to balls that hit the roof but a temporary fence will be installed and, even though there will be a shorter distance to the left field fence, it will still meet NCAA requirements.
“They can put bases down into the [turf]. It’ll be just like playing on a regular field only it is covered by a dome,” added Hawkins.
She said Husson wouldn’t play a North Atlantic Conference game in the dome.
“It’s not that different. It’s just in an enclosed space,” said Husson left fielder Haley Spiers of Rochester, N.H. “It is a little different when you walk in there.”
“The ball bounces a lot differently compared to dirt,” said Husson senior pitcher Amanda Ryan of Brewer. “But we’ve been practicing at Sluggers [indoor facility in Brewer] and that should help us a bit.”
Spear and Ryan said it is important for the players be involved in game situations and this will give them that opportunity.
Ryan said it will take a few minutes for pitchers to adapt to the indoor mound.
“But after that it’s fine. There’s a different feeling when you’re dragging your foot,” said Ryan.
The Husson baseball team is going to be able to play on its home field this weekend. Thanks to “a phenomenal job” by the school’s maintenance crew, who cleared the field, Husson baseball coach Jason Harvey said the Winkin Sports Complex field will be playable.
“We are ready to rock ‘n roll,” he said Thursday.
The Eagles will host archrival Castleton State (Vt.) for North Atlantic Conference doubleheaders at noon Saturday and Sunday on the artificial FieldTurf at the Winkin Complex. Husson was originally scheduled to play at Castleton State but officials there said their grass field had too much snow on it.
Castleton State will hit last as the home team in all four games since they were scheduled to be Castleton State’s home games.
Harvey said there is still ice on the field’s warning track, but a temporary fence will be installed in front of the track on Friday.
Trimper said officials at UMaine and UMass Lowell had attempted to find someplace else to play this weekend since LeLacheur Park, the River Hawks’ home field, remains unplayable. They were unable to find another site.
“We tried every option we could, they’re just not readily available because everybody’s fighting for their own field space,” Trimper said. “I’ve been here 9½ years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Saturday is expected to be sunny and 45 degrees for the Husson baseball games but there is a chance for rain or snow Sunday in Greater Bangor.
Harvey said the Husson field has been cleared of snow three times, the first time in January, and believes doing so enabled the field to be ready this weekend.
Barring significant rain and-or much warmer temperatures in the coming days, most other Maine baseball and softball teams are likely to remain confined to indoor facilities for the immediate future.
Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.