Weather doesn’t stop Worthington

It looked like snow.

The only problem was, it’s July.

The Worthington American Legion baseball team was playing its first-round game Tuesday afternoon in Windom.

Prior to the game, a few sprinkles graced the skies, but a quick glance upward didn’t cause any concern.

That is, until around 1:30 p.m.

The game was just 27 minutes old when the first strike of lightning was spotted. 

At 1:27 p.m., the base umpire spotted a flash of lightning to the north and pulled both teams off the field. 

Within minutes the severe weather moved into the area and seemed to hover over Island Park in Windom.

Large drops of rain sent the players — and myself — heading under the roof of the dugouts.

Before long, small pea-sized pieces of hail started to fall.

Soon, the hail became larger. For approximately 15 minutes, marble to mothball-size hail fell on Windom. Even a pair of funnel clouds made an appearance, with neither touching down.

Sitting in the dugout looking across the field, it looked as if it was snowing. The field was covered with the small pieces of ice, and along with the rain, Island Park looked as if it wouldn’t recover.

Enter Windom baseball coach Brad Schlomann and his staff.

First letting some of the rain drain naturally, the crew from Windom brought out a machine to suck up the excess water and help dry the field.

Along with both coaches, some players and even some parents raking the field, Island Park slowly became playable again.

With the sun shining, the players came out of their cover and started collecting pieces of hail to make hailballs. Picking up a wooden fungo bat, the Worthington players took turns hitting the piece of hail, which disintegrated on impact. A couple players grabbed their gloves and started playing catch with these compact peices of hail.

By 4:11 p.m., play had resumed and the Worthington players, who an hour ago figured they weren’t playing again that day, did an excellent job of refocusing on the task at hand.

“I think everybody thought we were going to pack it up, leave and play the next day,” Worthington’s Joe Ahrens said. “But we decided to refocus. I don’t think it had too much to do with it because we came out hitting the ball well. But you get cooled down and you have to rewarm up again so it takes any momentum away that you had.”

With the game in the bottom of the second inning, Worthington’s Derek Busswitz was on first. Kyle Vaske, who had an 0-1 count, was given the bunt instruction two hours earlier. On the first pitch after the long delay, he put down a sacrifice bunt to move Busswitz to second. Worthington would score three runs in the inning and eventually held on for an 11-8 victory.

Worthington then suffered a loss in its second game of the day, but not before enduring a crazy afternoon of Minnesota weather.