DOWNS — Softball players from Schlarman and Blue Ridge learned Saturday why coaches emphasize playing one inning at a time. That's all they could do in their Class 1A sectional championship game at Tri-Valley High.
The game was delayed for 2 hours, 37 minutes after the first inning and for another 44 minutes following the second inning. More than four hours after the first pitch was made by Schlarman's Kylee West, umpires ruled the field unplayable and suspended the game.
It will resume at 11 a.m. Monday with Blue Ridge batting in the top of the third, trailing 5-0.
Players endured the rain delay in the Tri-Valley gymnasium. Schlarman coach Randy Skaggs tried to minimize his team's activity.
"We had a good start and had to make sure we stayed focused," Skaggs said. "Now we have to re-collect, start all over on Monday and try to finish the job. The assistants did a good job making sure they didn't get distracted today."
The coach of the state's top-ranked 1A team isn't comfortable with the lead, remembering an early-season game between the two small-school state powers where Schlarman won after trailing 7-0.
"They have the capabilities of coming back," Skaggs said.
Monday's winner advances to a super-sectional, which Danville will host. That game has been moved from Monday to Tuesday, but the opponent will be Dwight (24-10), which won its sectional Saturday.
Schlarman's three-run second inning was prolonged by Blue Ridge errors on three consecutive plays. Two were on throws following bunts, and the third was a fielding miscue.
"Things we worked on didn't materialize," Blue Ridge coach Myron Schroeder said.
The veteran coach, who will retire at season's end, was displeased by Skaggs' coaching tactics. The Schlarman coach makes a pitching change each time a left-handed hitter prepares to bat.
"I don't like the way they play the game," Schroeder said.
Left-hander West and right-hander Kelsey Sollars play the outfield when not pitching and are used interchangeably, depending on the situation. West faced the game's first two batters before Sollars came on for the next seven. West was throwing warmup pitches after Liz Cordes reached in the third inning, when the game was suspended.