Matt Langone

Don't be surprised if New Hampshire high school teams with artificial grass practice fields and facilities get off to a fast start this spring.

The recent snow storm that blasted New England two weeks ago created an early-season obstacle for schools that use natural grass fields such as Londonderry and Pinkerton. Not only did the initial 10 inches of snow effect practice schedules for spring sports, but the rain and warm weather that followed has caused very wet and muddy surfaces.

Rather than risk injury in unpleasant conditions, Pinkerton and Londonderry have been spending a great deal of practice time either indoors or on pavement.

"We've been practicing in a parking lot," said Londonderry lacrosse coach Joe McCune. "So that limits what you can do."

The same was true for Pinkerton lacrosse coach Brian O'Reilly, who mentioned on Monday that he hasn't been able to get a good look at his team yet because of the weather.

Finally, with a string of nice weather this week, lacrosse teams at both Pinkerton and Londonderry are having normal, efficient practices. The only problem is both teams open up the season in 10 days, leaving minimal time to iron out preseason weaknesses and build a solid team chemistry.

Meanwhile, the phenomenon of installing artificial grass fields is continuing to sweep the nation, and schools that are fortunate to have such fields are clearly at an advantage during the harsh early-spring weather that frequently occurs in New England.

With artificial turf there is no need to worry about mud or puddles, and snow can easily be plowed off the surface.

"It's difficult to say if other teams will be in the same boat we're in," McCune said. "Some teams have turf fields and they should be way ahead of us."

It would seem that the early-season obstacle won't have a dramatic effect on Pinkerton. The Astros are the defending Division 1 champs and are always one of the premier teams in the state. Londonderry, on the other hand, is looking to improve on an 8-9 season last year. But if the Lancers get off to a poor start, an improvement on their record may be a tall task.

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Londonderry native and current Lowell Spinner Mike Chambers was recently honored.

The 23-year-old second baseman was named to the Coastal Plain League's (CPL) All-Decade Team. The team honored the best players from the first 10 years of the CPL's existence. The CPL is a summer collegiate baseball league and Chambers, who attended Franklin Pierce College, played for the Petersburg Generals in 2005.

Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis and Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander were also named to the team.

Last year with the Spinners, Chambers batted .250 with three home runs and 20 RBI in 47 games.

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Any Celtics fan that is hoping the C's land 7-footer Greg Oden in June's NBA draft will see the Ohio State big man get challenged tomorrow in the Final Four.

Georgetown center Roy Hibbert stands 7-foot-2 and could give Oden some trouble in the low post. Both are NBA prospects and if Oden can handle Hibbert then it could help silence any notion that he's not ready to face NBA big men on a regular basis.

I think the Hoyas will prevail and then lose to Florida in the national title game on Monday night.



Matt Langone is the sports editor of the Derry News. He can be reached by phone at 603-421-3829 or e-mail at sports@derrynews.com.

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