Rain won't go away for third-seeded 'Bows
|||No local TV scheduled for baseball regional|
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Rain is hardly new in these parts. So when it forced a portion of practice to move to Oregon State's Truax Indoor Center yesterday, it was just another day at the park for the team from sunny Hawai'i.
"We're Rainbows," UH senior outfielder Matt Inouye said. "Rain follows us everywhere."
Rain is hardly a hinderance to the third-seeded Rainbows (43-15), as they got in their last workout before today's 9 a.m, Hawai'i time, Covallis Regional opener against second-seeded Kansas (42-23) at OSU's Goss Stadium. After all, they've been through their share of rain delays, postponements and flat-out cancelations this season because of rain.
Overnight and morning rain pushed practice into the facility opened in 2001 that is primarily for football. A full length football field of FieldTurf is in the building, where four net batting cages were set up. The Rainbows did all of their hitting indoors.
As the players entered the building adjacent to Reser Stadium, the football complex near one of the side entrances to the campus, there were some quiet "oohhs and aahhs."
"They've got nice facilities," Inouye noted. "I thought it looked like an NFL combine. It's pretty nice. They should have it because it rains so much here, I guess."
Hawai'i coach Mike Trapasso didn't mind having the hitting portion indoors.
"Sometimes, it's better to get into an environment like that than hitting on the field because of the numbers of swings we were able to get," Trapasso said. "The only thing, obviously, is not taking as many ground balls as you'd like."
It stopped raining in late morning, so the Rainbows concluded their session with infield practice later at Goss, which sits in the middle of campus with railroad tracks beyond right field. Yes, the train runs through the campus. As expected with a place wet most of the time, the grass was lush.
"Fresno, the grass was real short," Inouye noted. "The ball was real quick. Here, it feels spongy. I expect the ball to play slow in the outfield."
Trapasso, observing the infield from behind second base, said the infield clay plays fast, but the grass appears to slow down the grounders.
"It's an interesting surface because you go from thick grass to a pretty quick clay," he said.
The symetrical playing area is a normal 330 feet down the lines, 365 in the alleys and 400 to center. The setting is pretty intimate with just 2,000 seats. Foul territory is not as generous as in Les Murakami Stadium.
Trapasso said the impact of playing in the regionals won't hit the players until today. The setting, of course, is do or die now since every advancement here on is double elimination.
For UH senior catcher Esteban Lopez, the regionals are a family affair. His older brother, Rigo, who coached in the Hawai'i Collegiate League last summer, is an assistant at San Francisco, which is playing in the Lincoln, Neb., regional.
"It was funny to get phone calls on the selection day," Lopez said. "My brother was watching it on ESPN like us. They were just as happy as we were, making it into the tournament. Hopefully, we can continue to play the way we've been playing. Hopefully, we can win some more ball games and carry on."
It is USF's first regional selection.
Former UH assistant football coach Mike Cavanaugh made an appearance at the Rainbows' workout at Truax. His office is in the football stadium across the parking lot from the indoor facility.
Rainbows reserve third baseman/designated hitter Adam Roberts has a sore back, but can pinch hit, Trapasso said. Otherwise, the rest of the team is healthy.
Oregon State, which made the College World Series last year, is the only "veteran" of a recent postseason among the teams in the field. Hawai'i is in its first regional since 1993, while Kansas and Wright State are in for the first time since 1994.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.