When you play softball in West Michigan, you have to expect long periods on the road for the first third of your season.
The benefit to frequent road trips is you become accustomed to it. You grow to the routine of traveling different places through different time zones. You figure out how to get homework done on the bus, get good sleep in a hotel bed and eat healthy as well.
But you must remember, with all these extracurricular activities, your sole purpose for so much road travel is playing the game. You have to do everything mentioned above and still be expected to battle and perform in different venues and schools.
Some might say you have to be warriors — fighting and clawing in unfamiliar situations. Being on the road is a different animal. When it comes to the Ferris softball team, some may consider them … Road Warriors.
“I feel like when you play an outdoor sport, especially baseball or softball in the spring in Michigan, you have to expect to be road warriors, at least for the first half of the season. Because you are not going to be able to play outside up here,” said Head Coach Kristin Janes.
The Bulldogs already had to face some adversity on the road. They were expected to play Bellarmine University and University of Findlay in Kentucky the weekend of Feb. 15. However, before they hit the road, they got the call that the fields were not ready. Instead, they drove to Missouri and played the University of Illinois Springfield four times in two days. Coach Janes was impressed how the girls handled the switch up.
“We talked about this the whole year, about being flexible and I think they did a good job. I don’t really think they missed a beat,” Janes said.
Also, even though they only won one in their first four games Coach Janes was still very pleased with the effort and play for her team’s first real game action.
“On the field, as we told them, we came out better than we expected. Just because we haven’t been outside yet. Haven’t been on turf or dirt and the outfielders haven’t seen a fly ball. We came out and played better than we thought,” Coach Janes said.
One good thing about getting on the road early and often is it prepares a team for later in the season. It is good for them to be battle-tested in the early parts of the season.
When the dog days of conference play begin, and games get canceled because of weather, the Bulldogs sometimes have to play double headers in multiple days. This long stretch of being on the road will only make them stronger and prepare them to make a run in the GLIAC and a possible postseason run.
The Bulldogs traveled to Kentucky to play three double headers in three days this past weekend. Then they will play 12 games in seven days the week of March 7 in Florida.
The girls do know how to keep it light and have fun while they are on these long road trips. Junior catcher Ali Magiera mentioned how they play Mario Kart on their Nintendo DS when on the bus.
Also, before games they circle up and have a little dance off. According to team rumor, senior pitcher Connor Proctor holds her own on both the pitching mound and in the dance circle. Senior Abby Highway can own the mound, but not so much the dance circle.
The Bulldogs do not play a home game until Wednesday, March 18, and with weather — who knows? So expect to see your road warriors battling it out in unknown territories. They’ve handled it thus far and will look to continue the trend.