On the same day the first Big Ten winter season began, it was reported that the 2021 Big Ten baseball and softball seasons will be conference only, according to a tweet from DI Baseball’s Kendall Rogers.

While it’s unclear what the season will look like, the tweet says coaches will aim to have “as many games as possible.” Last season, Michigan softball was slated to face 25 non-conference competitors while baseball was set to face 15. 

This development will likely result in a later start to the season. Typically, the Wolverines — both in baseball and softball — spend the first month and a half of the season on the road, waiting for Ann Arbor to get warm enough to play. The strategy is common throughout the Big Ten, as schools typically open their schedules with games against southern teams or in non-conference invitational tournaments in Florida and California. These games also provide Michigan with opportunities to test itself against traditional powerhouses in the Southeast and West Coast.

These will be the first conference competitions in either sport since the 2019 Big Ten tournament. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the remainder of the spring sports season roughly two weeks before conference competition was scheduled to start. Neither the baseball nor softball program played a home game last season.