The Michigan softball team has had its week affected by a number of circumstances that are beyond its control: Specifically, the weather and the situation in the Middle East.
Last weekend in Tallahassee, Fla. the Wolverines had their schedule changed twice by the Florida rain, forcing them to play all three of their round-robin games in one day on Saturday and canceling Sunday’s championship game completely.
This weekend wasn’t the first time Michigan was affected by the rain – the weather has affected seven previously scheduled games over the past three weeks of action.
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins was disappointed that her team didn’t get to play more in Tallahassee because she believes her team needs more situational experience that can only be gained in real games. In practice this week, Hutchins has focused on trying to recreate game scenarios to make up for some of the team’s rainouts.
“We needed to put our pitchers, our hitters and our defense in game-like situations and try to apply a little pressure,” Hutchins said. “That’s what we’ve been able to do.”
Unfortunately for Michigan, it has been practicing indoors all season, which has hindered the extent of the drills it can do. Indoor practice – playing in an area with a ceiling, no pitcher’s mound and only batting in cages – is a “real disadvantage” to defensive drills, according to Hutchins.
“At this time in the year, we need to be on our field: On dirt, on grass,” Hutchins said. “We haven’t been on the field yet.
“It would be like playing basketball on beach volleyball sand. It’s a totally different environment.”
In addition to the trouble it has had to endure at the hands of Mother Nature, several members of the softball team are also being affected by the possibility of war in the Middle East.
While her team is trying to focus its attention on sports, it’s hard with the lingering world news.
“Any time the world has something going on that’s as intense as a war, it does have an effect (on the team),” Hutchins said. “Obviously, we’re going to try and stay focused on our world, which is competing in softball and getting our studies done.”
Specifically, two members of the team are directly affected by the war. Freshman Stephanie Bercaw has a sister who is stationed in Germany and junior Becky Churchill has a brother who is due to go overseas.
The team has been able to act as a support network for those two players during these difficult times off the field.
“We’re basically those kids’ second families,” Hutchins said. “We can just be there to support them. Knowing that there are people that care and are going through it with you I think is always helpful in any circumstance.”