Beating the heat

Published 12:03 am Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mackenzie Emery, Marisa LePard and Alexis Zinkgraf of Hazlet, N.J., cool off with towels at the World Series. | Kendra Bolling/Star-News

Sweltering temperatures are making softball teams take extra precaution during this year’s 12U Babe Ruth World Series.

Gilbert Franco, head coach for Othello, Wash., said his team played in last year’s World Series in Alachua, Fla., which he says gave them firsthand knowledge of Southern summers.

“We had about six of these girls that went to the World Series in Florida last year,” he said. “But for the six new girls, it’s a different story.”

Franco said the girls who participated in last year’s series warned the other girls about the heat, and encouraged them to drink plenty of water.

That’s the key, he said.

“We’re just drinking a lot of water,” he said. “The girls have rags to go around their necks.”

Franco said that despite their best efforts, the heat begins to take a toll during the game.

“You can tell that the heat is getting to them later in the game,” he said. “The heat (in Andalusia) is a different heat.

“We are making them drink water,” he said. “Every time they go in and out of the dugout, we make them get a drink of water.”

In preparing for this week’s games in the above-normal temperature range, Franco said he delayed practices until about 3 p.m. so that temperatures would be higher in their home state.

But, even then, temperatures were only about 82 to 84 degrees in Washington.

“We figured it was going to be hot,” he said. “That’s why I was trying to make practice later, and on Monday, we got up to 90 degrees.”

Temperatures on Friday afternoon varied in all 12 teams’ home cities.

In Andalusia, it was around 92 degrees, but it felt like 107 with the heat index.

Temperatures in Franklin, La., Oviedo, Fla., and Mineral Area, Mo.’s are all relatively close to Andalusia’s; however, in Halifax, Mass., the heat index was more than 30 degrees less than Andalusia’s.

In Hazlet, N.J., and Lodi, Calif., the heat index was between 85 and 90, and in Fern Creek, Ky., it was around 96.

From Othello’s performance on Thursday and Friday, it appeared they were adapting to the weather pretty well. They won their first two games.

“We went 1-4 last year,” Franco said. “The heat definitely got to us then. In fact, our catcher almost fainted. So that definitely prepared us for this.”