Sports Lounge.eps

The 2018-19 high school sports season will likely be remembered as the “Year of Mother Nature.” We opened the high school playoffs last November under plumes of choking smoke and we’re concluding the sports year with abnormal rain storms.

A number of playoff baseball and softball games were rained out last week and into the weekend, compressing an already tight schedule. Early forecasts are showing more rains on the way this week, which could affect the ability to finish up the tournaments in the their allotted time frames — this weekend.

Any more delays at this point would move championship games to next week, which is the start of the graduation season. It would be horrible for a student-athlete and their families to chose between playing for a section title or walking in their graduation ceremony.

It seems only appropriate that late rains would play havoc with the Central Coast Section spring playoffs. After rains finally helped wash away the smoke as California burned in the late fall, the water kept falling to make a mess of the winter and spring seasons. In the fall, school administrators, athletic directors, coaches and sports reporters became experts in air quality as, literally, minute-by-minute changes in the AQ dictated the CCS football playoffs. Teams already on buses heading to one venue, were informed to keep driving to some far-flung school in King City, or turn around and head from Watsonville to Gilroy.

Meanwhile, volleyball matches were being suspended because of the choking smoke, which also affected the start of the winter sports season as soccer and basketball teams were prevented from practicing and training because the air was so bad.

Everyone took a big breath, almost literally, as the smoke cleared out and the fires around the state started to die out as the first winter rains started to fall.

Again, I became an amateur meteorologist as I would comb through advance forecasts to see if I would be outside covering a soccer game or simply head indoors for a basketball or wrestling match.

Those winter rains morphed into spring showers, as Mother Nature, again, decided to throw a wrench into the spring sports schedule — which essentially became a moot point as many teams postponed regularly scheduled games and made them up whenever they could. Random results would trickle into my email from games played between episodes of rain. At one point, the Aragon boys’ tennis team had six Bay Division matches under its belt, while Menlo-Atherton hadn’t even played one because of all the weather delays.

When it finally seemed like the weather had finally settled, a freak, May storm window opened up last week. First- and second-round playoff games were either suspended or postponed altogether, meaning some teams may be playing three games this week if they make it to championships.

Baseball and softball weren’t the only sports affected. The CCS boys’ singles and doubles tennis championships have been delayed because of the wet weather. The first two rounds of the tournaments were played a week ago, with the finals scheduled for the following day.

Rain, however, wiped out that plan. Since then, the Northern California team tournament came and went — with CCS champ Bellarmine taking out Menlo School for the second time in two weeks.

Now, players will return to the CCS level to finish off the individual tournaments Wednesday with the semifinals and championship matches scheduled.

That is, if the rain stays away and CCS doesn’t suddenly become inundated with a plague of locusts.

***

First, there was the four-goal eruption during a five-minute power play that carried the San Jose Sharks to a Game 7 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Then there was the hand pass that wasn’t called during the Sharks’ Game 3 win over the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference finals.

I was starting to think that this might finally be the year the Sharks get that elusive Stanley Cup championship because let’s face it — every team needs a little bit of luck to win a title.

But it’s clear now the Sharks have run out of gas. They’ve been outscored by the Blues 7-1 over the last two games, including a 5-0 shellacking Sunday, putting the Sharks on the brink of elimination.

It’s a common theme seen by the Sharks over the years and it’s not just a playoff fade. It seems every year, the Sharks have a spell where they simply can’t score, which usually sends then on a multi-game slide.

Well, that inability to score has once again reared its ugly head and it’s come at the worst possible time. And while goaltender Martin Jones has tightened up his game since his early-playoff struggles, he hasn’t been sharp enough.

Meanwhile, St. Louis netminder Jordan Binnington has looked like the second coming of Patrick Roy as he has stoned the Sharks over the last two games.

San Jose is beat up and on the edge of going out of the playoffs. St. Louis will finish the Sharks off Tuesday night.

Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: nathan@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117.

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