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04/07/2013 - From The Press Box: Mother Nature's Hand In Baseball Affects Scheduling, Nebraska Boy Steals The Show

 I would like to take one moment on behalf of all baseball teams in Nebraska to thank Mother Nature for her kind hospitality in helping affect all team schedules this spring.

End of sarcasm.

If you were to ask all of the head coaches of teams in Omaha, Lincoln and across most of the state, how they feel about the impact of wintry weather in the first few weeks of the season, they would tell you the same thing.  It hurts.

Essentially, there is no time to make up many games that were postponed in mid to late March simply because April is full of games to be played and the State Tournament is a month away.

Coming into last week, Lincoln Northeast, for example, played one game and that was an 11-1 loss at Omaha Westside on March 16th.  Their second game was last Tuesday, when they fell to Lincoln Pius X 4-1.  The Rockets then fell to Lincoln North Star 10-3 on Thursday.  Those teams have played at least two or more games by that point.

What's the solution?  That's a good question and something perhaps that can't be immediately resolved.   Should everyone go to an all-field turf surface like Westside? You be the judge.

These teams play at least 20 games or more a season, most of which are through occasional doubleheaders and tournament invites at various schools.  If none of the games from March have been made up by the first week of April, there's no sense of rescheduling. 

Lincoln Teams To Keep An Eye On

Lincoln East and North Star seem to be the early picks to have a future in this year's post-season. Southwest is a close third, with Southeast and Lincoln High not too far behind.  Northeast, after a dominate season and state runner-up finish a year ago, is going through a rebuilding phase. The Rockets could develop later on.

East, led by pitcher Jake Hohensee, upset top-ranked Westside in the Millard West Invite on Thursday 1-0. The Spartans fell on Saturday to Millard South 7-1.

North Star is back in the hunt again, after a subpar season last year. Veteran Tyler Coufal is a key hitter for the Gators and is part of the pitching rotation. We'll have the game with the Spartans and Navigators Monday afternoon on

Team Jack And The Run

If you are on social media, like I am, everyone from around Lincoln, Nebraska and the United States are talking about the touchdown run scored by 7-year-old Jack Hoffman of Atkinson, Nebraska.

Jack, who has been battling brain cancer, was accepted by members of the Nebraska football team last year, since the boy is a Cornhusker fan. Former Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead took Jack under his wing and started "Team Jack" as a way for people to help in Jack's fight against cancer.

Saturday's Red-White Spring Football game brought out a heartwarming salute to little Jack. In the fourth quarter of the scrimmage, Jack came out wearing a plastic Nebraska football helmet, a replica No. 22 jersey of Burkhead's and white uniform pants to run a fourth-down play for the Red squad.

Quarterback Taylor Martinez got the snap and handed the ball to Jack, who ran around right side for a 69-yard touchdown to cap off what many of us in the media are calling a "feel good day" for the program and the state.

Players and coaches from both sidelines ran into the end zone and hoisted Jack off the field to a standing ovation from the 60,000 fans in attendance.

It's gained national and worldwide attention on the web and ESPN's "SportsCenter" led off with Jack's touchdown run. By the way, it was the No. 1 "Top Play of the Day" on Saturday.

Needless to say, for someone like myself who is no way connected to the program and not even a booster, it left me choked up and misty-eyed. I don't care what team it is, to do something like that is classy and remarkable. Period.

Truly a day that Jack and his family will cherish forever. It's my understanding that Jack's tumor has shrunk considerably and continues to undergo treatment.

No question about it, young Jack Hoffman not only stole the show but captured the hearts of many around the world.

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