It’s hard for any team in any sport to play away from home. Now imagine playing your first 23 games at home.
The Ball State softball team has dealt with not playing in front of a home crowd since May 4 when they beat Northern Illinois. Now the team sits just a week and a half away from being back at home, but the away stretch is still not over.
Being on the road as often as the Cardinals are is making it more difficult in every aspect of life, but the team adapts well and uses it to their advantage.
Head coach Lacy Schurr believes there are benefits to having a heavy road schedule.
“It’s definitely practice for the postseason, especially playing in some pretty hostile environments on the road. It prepares you for what you are going to see in the postseason and being up against it in other teams' environments," Schurr said. "It’s just being in the midwest, that’s the nature of the beast and we have to travel south.”
After years of dealing with an unforgiving schedule, the coaching staff has got it down to a science on how they go about finding rhythm on the road. Schurr described how they break down the season to maximize success.
“We look at the season in two different parts. You got your pre-conference schedule, and you have conference,” Schurr said, “There really is no rhythm in preconference. We’re moving everybody around and finding the best fit for everybody.”
As hard as it is being on another school’s diamond all the time, it’s even more difficult being away from the classroom for those extended periods. The support that the players have around them is what makes it all possible.
Senior catcher Mackenzie McCarty explained how important having one another is during the long season.
“It isn’t easy but it’s manageable. We have a lot of support. We have each other, coaches, advisors, and professors as well. They make it possible for us,” McCarty said.
With the challenges the Cardinals face on a day-to-day basis, the feeling of putting everything together means that much more.
“I think we have been really close all year long. It was just a matter of putting all of the puzzle pieces together. I think the sense of relief that we finally put the puzzle together and it was a matter of finishing it off,” Schurr said.
Their next softball game is scheduled for March 25 at Central Michigan University.