The first pitch of the IU softball season was thrown Feb. 6, but it will be over a month before the team plays at home.
Since Indiana winters leave very few days where weather allows outdoor sports, IU is forced to start the season traveling across the country to play teams in warmer states.
During that time, the Hoosiers will travel roughly 7,850 miles, or just a little less than the distance from Bloomington to London and back.Then, finally, there will be softball in Indiana. On March 10, IU will have its first home game at Andy Mohr Field against Miami University.
When IU plays its first home game, it will already have played 19 away games. Over the 10 days following that first home game, IU will play another six games, all in Madeira Beach, Florida. Add another 2,000 miles to the tracker.
If you are doing the math at home, that’s 25 of the Hoosiers’ first 26 games on the road. And nearly 10,000 miles.
The first home series against Penn State, which doubles as IU’s Big Ten opener, is 43 days after IU starts its season.
Over 43 days, the Hoosiers will travel to Florida twice, North Carolina twice and Arizona once.
It isn’t easy to play an outdoor sport in Indiana in the winter. The average high temperature during February in Bloomington is 42 degrees.
When the Hoosiers are home, it’s rare they are able to practice outside. The relatively warm January allowed IU to practice outside several times, but most of the team's 21 practices have been indoors.
“Sure, would it be nice to be outside," IU head coach Shonda Stanton asked. "Absolutely. But it's part of the conditions and you just don't make any excuses.”
During most of the winter, the team practices at the John Mellencamp Pavilion, an indoor training facility built with a $1.5 million donation by the singer and Bloomington native.
“We all play so much better outside, especially when it's warmer,” senior pitcher Emily Goodin said. “Being in Mellencamp is fine and all but being able to be outside and be in the nice weather, doing our thing, I think we're all super pumped.”
Stanton said despite IU being forced to practice on turf so often, her team is prepared for when the action comes to grass.
“Once you get in the game it's just about being confident in your preparation,” Stanton said.
IU also has to learn how to handle all the traveling as well.
“There's times where it kinda catches up with you, but it just becomes your new normal for a while,” Goodin said. “In the past we've been really good with adjusting to that after the first couple weeks and getting used to it.”
But when they finally open at home, the Hoosiers will be ready, Stanton said.
“It's awesome being able to play on our home field,” Goodin said. “Not having to worry about traveling, just being able to show up and do our thing on the field. Own it.”
Stanton said she misses the sunny and 60 degree weather at Andy Mohr Field. She mentioned how nice it is to not have to travel, to have one extra day of sleeping in your own bed.
“Sure, those are things you could envy about a warmer weather sport, but there’s something about being road warriors too.”
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
More in Sports
The NCAA ruled against an extra year for athletes who participated in winter sports.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the esports title to adapt during its season.
Even armchair quarterbacks need the occasional offseason.