May 12, 2019 was the last time the Wolverines stepped on the field of Ray Fisher Stadium to play a game. Nearly two years later, the Wolverines finally get to come home to “defend the Fish.”
After making it to the College World Series in 2019, Michigan started its 2020 campaign with a grueling schedule that had five nationally-ranked opponents out of the eight series they played. Now, two years later, and with zero starters from that team still on the roster, the Wolverines excitement to return home is palpable.
“It’s exciting because last season got canceled right before our first home series so we always remember that,” fifth-year outfielder Christan Bullock said. “We just can’t wait to get back home and play in front of the Michigan stadium and in front of the families. We are very excited, and we have our rivals coming to town too so that’s even more exciting.”
The Wolverines play Illinois and Michigan State twice this coming weekend in Ann Arbor, and the feeling of going home to play their rivals adds even more to the long-awaited return. However, this will be the first time playing at home for seven out of the nine starting fielders on the team.
“Our goal is always to defend the Fish and win all of our games at home,” right-hander Joe Pace said. “It starts next week, and we are going to give Illinois and Michigan State our best look and try to accomplish our goals of defending the Fish.”
On top of the excitement, the Wolverines in years past have been significantly better at home than they have away. In 2018, they went 18-3 at home while going 12-13 away. Similarly, in 2019, they went 22-4 at home and 14-12 in away games. In 2019, they averaged over seven runs a game at home while averaging around 6.25 runs during away games.
“I don’t even remember what it feels like,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “It’s going to be weird with no fans, but hopefully that goes back to normal at some point. Our team is very happy to play at home. Also, the 10 guys that don’t travel get to be involved with the games at home.”
With this season’s travel restrictions, some of the players were unable to travel with the team. However, regardless of the team members who have never played at home before, the entire group is ecstatic and hopes that their past of playing better at home will be sustained through this season.
“We have so much bottled up energy and love, and we just want to release it as soon as we get on that field,” Bullock said. “Just the season getting canceled right before our first home series definitely stung and especially in my heart so it’s an honor and blessing to be able to play again.”
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