Mike Owens, the veteran baseball coach at South Portland High, says of the playoffs: “It always seems to be something with the weather at this time of year.” South Portland is scheduled to play Thornton Academy in the Class A South championship game on Wednesday, weather permitting. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

South Portland baseball Coach Mike Owens has taken his team to four straight Class A South finals.

He’s learned a lesson in that time: Don’t expect the weather to go according to plan.

“It always seems to be something with the weather at this time of year,” Owens said. “It’s funny, because we really haven’t had any (bad) weather all year. And now it’s all going to come.”

Indeed, bad weather has shaken up the baseball and softball playoff schedule again this year. Regional finals that were scheduled for Tuesday were moved to Wednesday because of forecasted rain, and the forecast is calling for showers Wednesday and Thursday as well.

And in baseball, where coaches are constantly trying to line up pitchers within pitch count rules to give their teams the best chances of advancing in the playoffs, uncooperative weather can force them to rework those plans.

“It does probably limit the options you’re going to have on Saturday if you win,” said Thornton Academy Coach Jason Lariviere, whose team will play South Portland for a spot in the Class A state championship. “Teams are going to have some big decisions on whether they stick with their original plan or change it.”


Maine Principals’ Association baseball rules require two days of rest for pitchers throwing between 41 and 65 pitches, three for those throwing between 66 and 95 and four for pitchers coming off of an outing of 96 to 110 pitches. With the games being moved to Wednesday, the additional day of rest could make pitchers who threw Saturday available. Meanwhile, aces who will take the mound Wednesday now have a 65-pitch limit if they aim to remain an option for Saturday’s state finals.

“If their ace threw 95 or less on Saturday and they weren’t planning on throwing him in this one, now they can,” Lariviere said. “If your plan was to throw that guy in the state game (in addition to the regional final), that probably won’t happen.”

Owens pitched Nolan Hobbs in the Red Riots’ Class A South semifinal victory over Marshwood on Saturday, and now have Gatorade Maine Player of the Year Andrew Heffernan ready for Wednesday. Owens said his plan isn’t to limit his senior’s pitch count in hopes of saving him for Saturday.

“I think it would be a special circumstance if we start thinking that way,” Owens said. “I think we have to get there to win it, and we know how difficult it is to get there. Maybe if something strange were to happen and we jumped out to a big lead we could start thinking about it, but that’s so far away from our thought process.”

Cape Elizabeth Coach Don Dutton, whose team has top pitcher Curtis Sullivan ready to go in the Class B South final against Yarmouth on Wednesday, said he’ll use Sullivan without keeping an eye on Saturday. Dutton also has Jameson Bryant, last Saturday’s starter, available; Bryant would have been able to pitch Tuesday as well.

“We’re in a good spot, pitching-wise,” he said. “In high school baseball, you’ve got to win the day ahead of you. You can’t look ahead to Saturday. We’re going to ride Curtis as long as he can go and then worry about Saturday on Saturday.”


Some teams won’t be affected by the postponements. Lariviere pitched ace Josh Kopetski in a win at Falmouth on Saturday, but because of a one-game suspension resulting from an ejection Kopetski won’t be able to throw against South Portland on Wednesday. Kopetski will be eligible again for the state final, should Thornton advance.

“Even if he was available, I would stick with the current plan that I have,” said Lariviere, who will start senior Owen Critchley. “I don’t think (Kopetski would) be ready. … I know my players pretty well, I know what situations they can be successful in. Starting Josh in that game would not be a good decision by me.”

Softball teams don’t deal with the pitching limitations baseball teams do, but Biddeford Coach Mike Fecteau, whose team will aim to beat Windham for its third straight A South title, said the wait can be beneficial.

“The way I look at it, it’s an extra day of rest for the girls,” he said. “The tough part is coming back inside to practice. Once you get outdoors, nobody likes to go back indoors and practice in a gym.”

The forecast indicates softball teams could battle rain when playing for a regional title. If conditions do get wet, Fecteau said the Tigers, who beat Cheverus in the rain in the quarterfinals, will be ready again.

“We’ve played three or four games in the rain this year,” he said. “Sometimes we practice in the rain, just to get that feeling. You never know when you’ll be playing in the rain, you pick up that wet ball and throw it. I don’t think the rain’s going to affect the girls, for both teams.”

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