Croup’s Corner – Stella wasn’t stellar…

But she sure did make things complicated

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

The baseball team was supposed to have four home games this weekend, but instead had to travel four and a half hours to Cincinnati.

The softball team was supposed to have a non-conference home game Saturday, but rescheduled the game to March 23.

The track teams were supposed to begin outdoor season at Juniata College Saturday, but made a last-minute move to Muskingum University to begin the outdoor schedule.

Being a student athlete in Western Pennsylvania has its challenges, but Point Park has more potholes to drive around than most schools in the region.

These challenges were on full display last weekend and were frustrating for the teams, coaches and administrators. They all have Winter Storm Stella to thank.

The apocalyptic forecasts worried the teams that had games or meets scheduled for the weekend. It looked like Stella was going to wreak havoc on the entire Northeast.

But forecasters started changing their predictions for the Pittsburgh area early Monday night, and it looked like Pittsburgh was in the clear. Stella flat out swung and missed in the Burgh.

But there were still spurts of snow and rain that accumulated on the baseball and softball fields in the coming days. The drainage there isn’t the best to say the least, and the weather effectively ruined any chance of home games in Pittsburgh for the weekend.

The baseball team has a loaded schedule this season with few dates to schedule makeup games. The team was forced to move its conference doubleheaders against Cincinnati Christian from Green Tree to Cincinnati. Point Park swept the four-game series and improved to 8-4 in the River States Conference (RSC).

The softball team hasn’t played a game this season that didn’t take place in Florida. March 3 was the last time the team hit the diamond. That was the day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. We were still on spring break.

Feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

The softball team’s non-
conference date with Gannon on Saturday took a rain check for Thursday. If the game is actually played, it would mark 20 days between games for Point Park.

The Pioneers open conference play two days later against Carlow. You can bet the team wants to play Gannon to work out the kinks before it plays a game that matters in the standings.

The track and field teams were in a little better shape, just coming off a wildly successful indoor season. But outdoor track and field is a whole different ballgame.

Mother Nature was victorious over Juniata College, which announced the cancellation of the Juniata Invitational last Thursday. Point Park was forced to move at the last second to the Muskingum Muskie Duals in New Concord, Ohio.

It didn’t seem to phase the teams, which has a fantastic start to outdoor season winning events and securing national championship bids.

I asked Anna Shields, who qualified for nationals in the 800 Saturday, about the change.

“I just get on the bus and go where they tell me,” she said.

Fair enough.

Despite the incredible challenges Point Park teams face, the university continues to recruit talented student athletes who stack up against the best of the best colleges in the RSC.

These three teams, along with the golf teams, arguably have the toughest time at Point Park. They’re essentially always at the mercy of Mother Nature.

The softball and baseball teams can take live batting practice in the cages and throw a little at their practice facility in Green Tree. That’s about it. There is little work the teams can do on defense, particularly fly balls, when they are indoors.

The track and field teams have obvious challenges that come with competing at an urban university. Distance runners can adapt and run in the city and at Schenley Park. Sprinters and field athletes can’t exactly perfect their crafts on the Boulevard of the Allies.

Still, the track and field (throw cross country in there, too) teams have, in three short years, set the standard for excellence and success at the university.

The softball team is at the top of the conference year-in and year-out, and is never a cakewalk for opponents from around the RSC.

The baseball team, in its 50th season, is one of the most successful and historic programs in the country.

Staying at the top of your game as a student athlete at Point Park isn’t easy. But somehow, the teams are more “Stella” than most who have more accommodating locations.