For the second time this week, rain has washed out area baseball. All of Monday's games were moved to Tuesday, and Wednesday's games have been moved to Thursday.
And the recent string of inclement weather may continue, as Thursday brings a 40 percent chance of rain for the Gainesville area, according to the National Weather Service.
Thursday's make-up games involving Hall County schools include Walnut Grove at West Hall, East Hall at Dawson County, North Hall at Johnson, Winder-Barrow at Flowery Branch, and Chestatee at Gainesville, all of which were originally scheduled for Wednesday. All games are scheduled for 5:55 p.m. Also Thursday, as originally scheduled, Riverside Military hosts Athens Christian at 5:30 p.m. and Lakeview Academy hosts Tallulah Falls at 5:15 p.m.
However, if rain prevents Thursday's games from taking place, those games could move to Saturday, or even bleed into next week. Most teams are in the thick of their region schedules, meaning postponed games have to be made up to help determine region playoff positioning (non-region games don't have to be made up).
Georgia High School Association rules state that teams must make up region games on the next available date, which means teams could play four, or maybe even five games in a single week if the weather is bad enough.
It's happened before.
"I remember West Forsyth played five games (in a week) in 2009," Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp said. "That made an impact on them. It's definitely possible for that to happen."
Four or five games in a week is the norm for professional baseball teams, but most at the high school level aren't equipped for that type of workload when it comes to pitching.
"We don't have a deep pitching staff," Vikings coach Wesley Crowe said. "It really puts a strain on us to have multiple games in a week."
Coaches have to use their pitchers differently in such circumstances, often opting to reduce in-game pitch counts so that players are available to throw in back-to-back games. Also, opportunities arise for seldom-used pitchers to gain increased playing time.
Another option to preserve the staff during busy weeks is for a pitcher to skip his bullpen session to instead throw an inning in game.
"If someone is supposed to (start) on a Friday, I can have them close (the game) on Wednesday," Kemp said. "You've got to piece together games for a pitcher, because if they throw 120 pitches in one game, they're done for the week."
On the flip side of cramming games into a week is the down time that results when scheduled games are rained out. Crowe said the main goal is to make sure the pitchers continue some kind of throwing routine and to keep it as close to normal as possible. In some instances, he's thrown a pitcher in a junior varsity game to get find him extra work during the down time.
But down time affects more than the pitching staff. Defenses can't maintain their fielding routines and rust can become evident when teams take back to the field.
"We were sloppy on defense (Tuesday) because we didn't get enough ground balls in," said Kemp, referring to a 15-5, five-inning win over Walnut Grove in which the Red Elephants defense committed two errors. The game was originally scheduled for Monday. "But Walnut Grove didn't get a chance to field grounders either, and they were sloppy too (the Warriors committed three errors), so it was an equal playing field.
"It's something both teams have to deal with."
Thanks to indoor facilities, hitting doesn't suffer so much, because players can still take batting practice.
"We've been wearing (the indoor facility) out," Kemp said. "It's come in handy for all of our teams."
However, in the case of West Hall, the Spartans don't have an indoor facility to play in. They have to coordinate with the soccer team to use the basketball gymnasium, and can only throw in there. There's also a pitching machine in the weight room, but it only throws the kind of artificial baseballs often hit off a tee.
"It's just one of those things we have to deal with," Spartans coach Pete Allen said. "We can't use it as an excuse, but when we do get outside, we have to work harder to make up for (not having an indoor facility)."