Lingering winter having an impact on little league teams

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Most of us can agree that it feels as though this winter will never end! The prolonged chill, deep frost and occasional snow have made field conditions less than ideal for spring sports teams! That means they're having to make alternative plans to get their practices in.

"We may not be able to get on the fields until Opening Day," Rich Eckert, president of North Central Little League said.

Opening Day is May 3rd.

"It will really hurt the development of our kids. It'll change the way our coaches have to proceed this season," Eckert said.

Eckert says outdoor practice is supposed to start on April 1st. This year, that might be a bit of a problem, as snow piles still lie near area ball diamonds -- and we need consistently warm temperatures to thaw out the fields.

"We are very aware that if you beat up the fields now they're going to be beat up for the whole year," Eckert said.

After Opening Day, the fields will be packed with the league's nearly 700 kids, and league officials will be trying to fit all the games in -- so now is prime time for practice.

"Teams might not ever get to practice outside this year," Eckert said.

The weather has teams seeking out places to practice indoors -- like Milwaukee's Baseball Academy.

"People can't get outside on fields. They're frozen over -- and people are itching to get swings in and itching, you know, to get into baseball mode and I think, you know, this place is a great outlet for them to do that and I think it's really kind of driven people over here," Milwaukee Baseball Academy's owner David Casey said.

Eckert says his league has an agreement with the academy: Each of their 55 teams will get several hours of practice time there.

"We just try to find alternatives so our teams at least can get some pitching in, some hitting in -- but it's going to be a struggle again this year," Eckert said.

This is the first season the Milwaukee Baseball Academy has been open, so they don't have past winters to compare volume to. However, the owner says the place gets pretty packed in the evenings and on weekends.