CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Catholic has taken a potentially tricky situation and made it work better than anyone might have expected.
With the seasons overlapping for two of the Irish's most-accomplished programs - boys basketball and baseball - there's the potential for a slow start for the baseball team because of the continued success, and length of season, for the basketball team.
But that's not the way it's been working out.
Catholic has maintained its status as a state Class A power in both sports because of the working relationship between basketball coach Bill McClanahan and baseball coach Bill Mehle.
The Irish have reached the state championship game in basketball eight times over the past nine seasons, going 20-6 in state tournament games in that stretch, but the elongated hoops season hasn't bothered the baseball squad, which has advanced to the state tournament seven times in 11 years.
"Coach McClanahan's real good about it,'' Mehle said. "During those three weeks they're in the postseason, he lets the basketball guys come and get their work in. So pitchers like [Kiefer Hovorka and Andy Hoyer] have been throwing a lot and have done a lot of work.
"We've been doing this for, what, 12 years now? They're always in the postseason in basketball. So we never plan on scheduling a game until after the state tournament so they can get their work in those first three weeks [of baseball season].''
Hovorka and Hoyer, the team's top pitchers from last season, return this year and are two of five basketball players on the baseball roster. Also back are three players who hit better than .420 last season.
Those are some of the reasons the Irish have been selected as the No. 1 team in Class A in the first set of Gazette state baseball ratings. They're used to playing for titles.
"That's been the goal from Day 1,'' Hovorka said. "Coming in as freshmen, it's always the goal. Everybody wants to win the state championship.''
On the inside looking out
So far, the weather for the current baseball season has been a far, far cry from last year.
It seemed like the majority of teams were approaching the 32-game regular season scheduling limit a year ago because of the proliferation of dry, temperate weather. This season, though, it's been an about-face.
Several games have been washed out and others played with snowflakes flying, and it doesn't look like it's going to improve much until perhaps later this week.