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updated: 7/6/2012 12:44 PM

Canopies, water, sweltering heat part of Lake Zurich youth wooden bat baseball tournament

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  • Baseball umpire James Benedict, of Lake Zurich, tries to stay hydrated during the Lake Zurich Cougar Travel Team Wood Bat Tournament Thursday at Heritage Oaks Park in Hawthorn Woods. The 100-degree weather caused players, coaches, and spectators to seek shade and drink lots of water.

       Baseball umpire James Benedict, of Lake Zurich, tries to stay hydrated during the Lake Zurich Cougar Travel Team Wood Bat Tournament Thursday at Heritage Oaks Park in Hawthorn Woods. The 100-degree weather caused players, coaches, and spectators to seek shade and drink lots of water.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills Cougars parents Margaret Herron, left, and Ronna Streiff try to stay cool in the heat during the Lake Zurich Cougar Travel Team Wood Bat Tournament Thursday at Heritage Oaks Park in Hawthorn Woods. The 100-degree weather caused players, coaches, and spectators to seek shade and drink lots of water.

       Vernon Hills Cougars parents Margaret Herron, left, and Ronna Streiff try to stay cool in the heat during the Lake Zurich Cougar Travel Team Wood Bat Tournament Thursday at Heritage Oaks Park in Hawthorn Woods. The 100-degree weather caused players, coaches, and spectators to seek shade and drink lots of water.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
By Jennifer Earl
jearl@dailyherald.com

The closest thing to resemble a desert in the suburbs this summer could be a baseball diamond.

Members of a local youth baseball team agreed, as they dragged around coolers stocked with water, set up canopies and put on sports gear, that the weather can be even tougher competition than their opponent.

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The Lake Zurich Cougar Travel Team, hosting its first wood bat tournament for travel baseball teams, kicked things off Thursday with temperatures near 102 degrees.

The weather conditions weren't ideal, but baseball coaches, parents, and players said they have prepared for the worst.

"The most important thing is to get themselves prepared before they even step out onto the field," said Tim Svanson, head coach of the Lake Zurich Cougars U-13.

Griffin Adam, an 11-year-old playing on the Crystal Lake Bombers was hoping for rain during the car ride to his 4 p.m. game at Heritage Oaks Park in Hawthorn Woods so he could avoid the heat.

"We tell him to aim to slaughter the other team in four innings," said Megan Adam, Griffin's mother. "It gives him a little more motivation."

Elaine Arvidson, whose son plays for the Lake in the Hills Rebels team, said the boys have to be conditioned in order to be able to play in the heat.

Svanson said all of the boys have been practicing during the afternoon when temperatures reach their peak, so they can get acclimated to the weather.

"It's not going to be too much of a shock to their system, hopefully," he said.

However, it's not just the players who feel the effects of the extreme heat.

Sweat dripped from the forehead of James Benedict, an IHSA umpire, before he even put on his protective gear and extra shirt.

Spending the entire game squatting down, Benedict said umpiring is a good workout. Like many of the boys, he resorts to damp towels and buckets of water to cool off in between innings.

"I'm a big guy as it is, but I love baseball so I can live through it," he said.

Megan Adam said she brings canopies, water and sports drinks, fans and spray bottles for the players and herself.

"We sacrifice ourselves for the boys," she said, while sitting in the sun next to other parents near the dugout.

The Lake Zurich Cougar Travel Team Wood Bat Tournament continues through Sunday, on 10 fields in Hawthorn Woods and Lake Zurich. About 31 teams with boys aged 10 to 14 are participating.

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