FORT DODGE — Deb Richarz was suffering.
“I started feeling it in the third inning,” said Richarz, 53, who is working her 12th state softball tournament as an umpire.
“My heart started beating fast. Sometimes, I would get dizzy. My legs and my arms were heavy.”
Put simply and understatedly, it’s been a hot, humid week at the Rogers Sports Complex.
Temperatures have been in the mid-90s all week. The heat index here topped out at 119 degrees on Monday, 116 on Tuesday, 112 on Wednesday.
“It’s summer in Iowa, but this is one of the hottest weeks that I can remember,” said Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union assistant director Joel Oswald, who has kept a close eye on the condition of umpires and players.
Three umpires were unable to complete duty Monday. Two were home-plate officials, the other was a base umpire who had worked behind the plate in the previous game.
Richarz worked Tuesday.
“When you put on the gear, it felt like a big old oven,” said the LeMars resident.
By Tuesday, Oswald amended the umpires’ rotation. Instead of working two consecutive games, umps had a game off in between to rest and rehydrate.
Richarz got a head start on hydration.
“I started drinking water three or four days (prior to the start of the tournament),” she said. “And I cut down on coffee. I knew that would be bad.”
The extreme heat brought a spike in concessions. Monday revenue was $12,899, with more than $9,000 in beverages and ice cream.
Concessions manager Aleah Lentsch said the complex sold 1,900 bottles of water Monday, 1,350 on Tuesday.
Still, despite all the water opportunities, it’s been oppressive.
Mid-Prairie pitcher Olivia Lugar was in discomfort in the Golden Hawks’ 4-3 win over Nodaway Valley on Monday, despite drinking an estimated 15 bottles of water throughout the day. She soaked her feet in water while the Golden Hawks were up to bat.
Richarz, who worked in the worst heat of Tuesday — her game behind the plate started at 1 p.m. — had a running dialogue with both catchers.
“I talked to both of them, making sure they were all right,” she said. “And they were asking me if I was OK.”
West Delaware played Keokuk in a consolation game at noon Wednesday. The Hawks wore their customary black uniforms with full-length pants.
“All black, it’s not my favorite on a day like this,” said catcher Alyssa McDowell. “But I’ve gotten used to it. It’s hot, but it’s part of being a catcher.
“You just drink a lot, stay in the shade as much as you can and keep wet rags on you.”
Clear Creek Amana Coach Jim White is a creature of habit, but backed down on pregame preparation Tuesday.
“I know (the players are) used to their routine, but we needed to shorten up and be more intelligent,” White said after CCA beat West Delaware in eight innings in a 3A quarterfinal Tuesday. “We still practiced twice, but we did it in the shade and we cut our time in half.
“The 1 o’clock and 3 o’clock games would have been really hard. But I could notice in the fifth inning of our game, it cooled down a little and our energy level was good.”
Sometimes, it’s just mind over matter.
“We’re tough; that’s all I can say,” said Mid-Prairie’s Rachel Miller, whose team faces West Burlington in a 2A semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Cooler temperatures are forecast for Thursday — mid-80s and a chance of rain.