Kara Biernat, DN
Ball State sports struggle to get outdoors in Indiana weather conditions
As sports teams in the area have recently experienced, Indiana weather can be brutal.
The unpredictable weather that comes with living in the Midwest can put a strain on athletics during the months transitioning from season to season. This month, it has thrown Ball State baseball and other outdoor sports for a loop.
Ball State baseball (10-10) opened its season at home on a 40-degree day. Although this is nothing new for sports in Indiana, it has affected seasons. Baseball had to reschedule its game at home against in-state foe Purdue on March 20 due to freezing temperatures with a chance of freezing rain or snow.
"Inside or outside, we're still practicing," head coach Rich Maloney said earlier in the season. "It doesn't affect our preparation too much. We just work on different things inside than we do outside. We use that time to work on a lot of tedious work."
March has not seen a day over the mid 60s. This month, the average day-to-day high has stayed in the low 40s. These conditions have moved baseball practices indoors, which calls for minor adjustments at practices.
"The biggest thing is seeing live pitching outside," senior outfielder Colin Brockhouse said. "A lot of stuff in here is just tee and drill work, front toss and things like that. When you're outside, you see live pitching and actually see the ball from 60 feet on the mound."
Tuesday's game being canceled means the team is entering Mid-American Conference play a game quicker than anticipated. With practice predicted to be inside all week, the Cardinals are doing their best to prepare indoors.
"The benefits of being inside and outside ... I mean, inside you can work on your small angle a little more and outside, you have the whole field," redshirt senior Jeff Riedel said. "You can throw longer and see the flight of your ball better and stuff like that."
Aside from not being able to do certain things indoors that the team can do outdoors, the frigid temperatures make for a long four-hour practice, if outdoors.
"An hour before practice, coach texts us and tells us that we're inside," Riedel said. "On one side, we're excited because it's freezing out, but on the other side, we do have to practice inside, which isn't as fun."
And baseball isn't the only sport that has had to move indoors. Ball State football's spring practice schedule has been announced and is underway. The team held its first "spring" practice of the season on a snow-covered field on a 30-degree day. The weather conditions on March 20 forced the team to cancel practice due to freezing temperatures.
Ball State track and field has also worked its way through some outdoor conditions that have not been ideal. The Cardinals opened up the outdoor portion of their season at Butler on March 17. The team ran in 30-degree weather, along with freezing rain and wind.
Ball State track and field head coach Brian Etelman was impressed by his team's ability to push through the conditions.
"I was really proud of how we competed in the weather," Etelman said. "The conditions were terrible, but we did a good job accepting the situation for what it was and creating the outcome we wanted on our own."
Ball State baseball rescheduled its game against Purdue to May 9 at 4 p.m. at First Merchants Ball Park, while football plans to return to the field on Thursday. Track and field will continue to run in the Midwest when it travels to Marion on Saturday for the Polar Bear Invite.