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Prep Baseball: Tigers Still Waiting on Season Opener

BELATED START: Frequent Rainouts Leave Centralia One of Two 2A Teams in Washington Without a Game

By Aaron VanTuyl

avantuyl@chronline.com
Centralia is winless. Centralia is undefeated. Centralia, sadly, still hasn’t played a baseball game yet this season.

The Tigers, locked in a Narnia-esque “always winter, never Christmas” scenario, held their 26th straight practice of the season on Tuesday, running fielding drills and playing a game of backyard football on the literal back yard — an unused expanse of muddy grass — behind Tiger Stadium.

Like every other baseball team in Western Washington, Centralia has been trying to squeeze in games between buckets of rain. The Tigers, though, just haven’t been successful — not yet. As of Tuesday, Centralia and Clover Park, in Lakewood, were the only 2A teams in Washington without a game under their belts.

“We haven’t taken a day off, and we just keep mudding around,” Centralia coach Rex Ashmore said, “waiting for that day when we’re playing baseball.”

When that day comes, though, is anyone’s guess.

“Well, this week doesn’t look good, that’s for sure,” he said, standing in the drizzle and surveying another gloomy afternoon. “Though I think my wife told me the sun peeks out on Friday, but just looking out here you can see what the grass is like.”

Noah Thomas, a senior pitcher, concurred.

“My guess is the Mariners are going to have a game before we do,” Thomas said. “But hopefully we get to play one by the end of the week.”

The Mariners, by the way, open the season on April 3.

The Tigers had games scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Tuesday’s game was, in the fifth such occurrence of the season, rained out; there’s hope, albeit fleeting, for the rest of the week.

“It is what it is. We’ve got to just keep practicing,” Ashmore said. “The best part is, these kids don’t complain. They expect we’re going outside every day. Every day I come in, and they’ve got their spikes on.”

Part of the issue is that Centralia shares Ed Wheeler Field with Centralia College’s baseball team, which limits options for rescheduling rainouts and taking advantage of this spring’s few decent days.

Thomas said the team’s looking good, and should be even better once they’ve seen a little live action — whenever that may be.

“We just really want to get out on the baseball field. A lot of teams have gotten at least three (games),” Thomas said. “It’s weird having to practice for a month straight. It’s feeling like Little League, where we start in February and games start in late March.”

Like Little Leaguers, the Tigers have new uniforms. The players got to try them on … once.

“For pictures,” Ashmore said. “We got to try the new unis on for picture day, so we know they fit.”

It’s the longest stretch of no-baseball baseball in Ashmore’s long coaching career.

“I think there was one year we were together in Adna where we went three weeks,” he said, “but never four-plus weeks of just solid practice.”

Without, he’s quick to add, taking a day off.

“We’re just hopeful,” he said. “Tomorrow’s the day!”

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