NELKE: Prepare to watch, cover up and move, softball fans

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Visitors to Kootenai County for state softball, welcome.

Hopefully you brought your umbrellas, and put a little extra gas in the car, just in case.

Especially this spring, area athletic directors have had to become part-time meteoroligists as well.

And this weekend is no exception, with the state 5A softball tournament scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Coeur d’Alene and Lake City high schools, and the state 4A softball tourney on those same days at Post Falls High.

“Friday it’s supposed to be pretty nice,” said Coeur d’Alene High athletic director Mike Lindquist, the tournament manager for the 5A event. “Of course, the way this spring has gone, nothing would shock me. Saturday, there’s a possibility of light showers. We’re hoping for the best, to be honest.”

WHAT OFFICIALS are hoping to avoid is a repeat of last year at state.

Last year, rain interrupted the 5A schedule in eastern Idaho, to the point where the losers bracket was canceled, and the four teams in the winners bracket traveled to Boise to finish up on Sunday morning in a single-elimination format.

And the 4A tourney in Twin Falls was rained out on the first day, and the second day was shortened to single-elimination with no losers bracket.

Post Falls has hosted state softball several times over the past decade. And on two occasions, rain forced the games to be moved, the latest in 2013, when the 5A tourney finished up at Lake City.

“We’ve put a lot of money into our fields since then, so they would drain better,” said Post Falls High athletic director Craig Christensen, who is hosting the 4A tourney on side-by-side fields at the high school. “We’ve been lucky; we’ve always finished it up somehow.”

IN THE past, when Coeur d’Alene has hosted the 5A tourney, it has been held on two fields at Ramsey Park, so the event could be in one location.

When Lindquist, in his first year as AD, became tournament director, he thought teams at that level should be playing state on fields with permanent fastpitch-distance fences (Ramsey is built with rec softball-distance fences; temporary fences are put up for fastpitch softball).

Coeur d’Alene High was going to be one site. Lindquist considered other fields in the city for the second field, as two games are scheduled at the same time for all of Friday and early on Saturday, before securing Lake City High as the second site, meaning the tourney will have likely the two best-draining fields in town.

Plus, both sites have ample parking, and are just 2 miles apart.

So Lake City wouldn’t have a home-field advantage, the T-Wolves will play their Friday games at Coeur d’Alene High. All but one of the Saturday games are slated for Coeur d’Alene High.

Crews will be stationed at each field, in case rain requires a little extra work to get the fields ready.

Other than that, the preparation is done — now, they’re at the mercy of the weather.

“We’re crossing our fingers,” Christensen said.

“We’ve seen what this spring was like,” Lindquist said. “This weekend actually looks better than what we’ve dealt with this spring.”

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.

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