The baseball teams from Free State and Lawrence High will play today.
Or maybe they won’t.
At this point, it’s pretty much a toss-up.
After their Monday game was postponed until Wednesday due to inclement weather and Wednesday’s game was postponed until Friday for the same reason, it’s becoming questionable whether a matchup between the teams ever will come to fruition — though they’ll try again today in a previously scheduled 7 p.m. game at Kansas University’s Hoglund Ballpark.
“It’s been unbelievable,” said Lawrence High coach Brad Stoll. “We had all this good weather, so you knew it was bound to get us (sooner or later).”
The series of postponements has delayed a long-awaited matchup between two of the state’s top programs — both entered the season ranked among the best nationally by at least one publication and each has won a state title in recent years — and left players on both sides predictably stir-crazy during the final week of the regular season.
“They’re just anxious to get back on the field,” said Free State coach Mike Hill, whose Firebirds hold a 14-4 record and are still in contention for the No. 1 seed in next week’s regional tournament. “It’s been a week since we’ve been on the field, and in baseball circles, that’s an eternity. For them, it’s about getting on the field and playing games.”
And it’s not just players. Coaches have grown equally restless following the postponements, attempting to keep their teams focused while hoping the extended layoff — five days for LHS, a week for the Firebirds — doesn’t significantly hamper their teams’ rhythm.
After Wednesday night’s game had been called due to thunderstorms in the area, for instance, Lawrence High (10-8) coaches sent players home and then spent the afternoon organizing the team’s equipment closets in an effort to keep busy.
“We didn’t have anything else to do,” Stoll said. “You can only talk about your game plan so much.”
If today’s game — which will be shown on Sunflower Broadband channels 6 and 206 via tape delay at 10:30 p.m. — does take place, however, it looks like the much-anticipated pitching matchup between Lawrence High’s Albert Minnis and Free State’s Cody Kukuk, two of the state’s best arms, now could occur at one of the state’s premier venues.
Both coaches indicated that their respective aces would likely be on the mound today at Hoglund, though Hill, citing the upcoming regional tournament and his desire to enter the postseason with his staff in peak shape, said he and his coaching staff wouldn’t make a final pitching decision until today.
“It’s one of those things we’re going to sleep on, because we’ve got to be cognizant of the regional tournament,” Hill said. “And if we do elect to go that way, we’re going to have to be pretty careful, (since) it’s been over a week since he’s thrown.
“But at this point, that’s the plan.”
And with Wednesday’s game rescheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at LHS, the teams will (Mother Nature willing) conclude their respective regular seasons with a two-game series that should represent a viable postseason tune-up.
“We don’t have a subway here, but I suppose it’s our version of the Subway Series,” Hill said. “But what I like the most is that it puts our club in a postseason atmosphere on the eve of going into the postseason, and I would guess it’s the same for them.”