NCAA calls first day at Oxford Regional due to bad weather

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Hayden Wilson, 6, and his dad, Taylor, of Madison, get a front row seat to a rain delay that ended up postponing Friday's regional games.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Hayden Wilson, 6, and his dad, Taylor, of Madison, get a front row seat to a rain delay that ended up postponing Friday’s regional games.

By John Davis

Oxford Citizen

OXFORD — A decision made Friday by NCAA officials to postpone the first day of the Oxford Regional was made based on the safety of the players and fans gathered at Oxford-University Stadium.

Wilbert Ellis, the NCAA’s representative at the regional, said pushing back Game 1 and Game 2 Friday revolved around heavy rains that were expected to hit the area, some time after the start of the first game between No. 2 seed Washington and No. 3 seed Georgia Tech.

The opener was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., with No. 1 seed Ole Miss and No. 4 Jacksonville State following at 7. Rain kept the tarp on the field most of the afternoon, and while the Huskies were able to take batting practice, neither team had taken infield or outfield drills when the tarp first came out.

The rain eventually came to an end around 5, with first pitch tentatively set at 6. The only thing that prevented that from happening was the extended forecast.

“We have the NCAA weather, and then we work with the local weather and the national weather, and what happened was the rain just kept popping up out there. And lighting was in there, and we can not play when lightning strikes within eight miles away,” Ellis said.

“If a team is on the field, we have to pull them from the field. By the time we thought about putting a team on the field, we had rain and heavy thunderstorms, and the last forecast was very scary. We didn’t have the weather (at 6), but we had the weather coming in.”

Ellis and officials from all four of the schools met to discuss the weather issue, and then a final call came at 6:15. The schedule for today’s games remains the same, 1 p.m. and 5, but an extra game was added to Sunday’s slate starting at 11 a.m.

Game 6 of the regional will be played Monday at 2 p.m. The “if necessary” game would be played Monday night at 7.

“We tried to do everything that was possible to get the game in. We talked with the NCAA and we did everything we could. When you get down to championship play, we want it to be under the best conditions,” Ellis said. “The outfield was kind of muddy and soggy, and as we got more rain, it was going to get worse.

“Now we have to say a prayer to the good Lord to give us favorable weather.”

john.davis@journalinc.com