The third-ranked Wolverines (1-0 Big Ten, 24-5 overall) understand the perks of playing at home.
Familiar facilities, a regular schedule and having friends and family in the stands have propelled Michigan to its current 21-game win streak at Alumni Field.
In the two contests the Wolverines have played at home this season, Michigan boasts a .431 batting average, featuring three home runs and a grand slam. Similarly, the pitchers have found their footing on the mound, recording 20 strikeouts in two games.
With the weather in Ann Arbor warming up and the team already hot at Alumni Field this season, the Wolverines are hoping their first full week at home can help give them an edge come gameday.
“These kids haven’t slept in their beds for seven days straight in a long time,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said on Saturday. “Just to be able to be on our field, which we’re so proud of, and to be able to play in front of our fans is always exciting.”
After traveling to California, Alabama and other warm-weather climates for the first month of the season, Michigan will welcome Wisconsin in its third home series in a row this weekend.
“Its awesome when you play on the road for six weeks and then you come home and get to play in front of your own fans and at your home stadium,” senior captain Angela Findlay said on Tuesday. “You know the park, you know the people. We practice there every day now that were outside and it’s just really nice to finally be playing games back home.”
The third-ranked Wolverines kicked off the 2010 home season with a convincing 10-2 win over Bowling Green last Wednesday. Senior hitting-pitcher Nikki Nemitz has settled into her groove at Alumni Field, as she hit the rocket grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning to cap off the Wolverines’ rout of Bowling Green.
“I’ve been watching them build this stadium for two years now, and it’s nice to have it finally done,” Nemitz said after Wednesday’s game against Bowling Green. “It’s great to play on it and be back with our fans who love us and come out every game. It’s so exciting that our home season has finally started and we get to see all our fans again. It’s such a great atmosphere.”
Michigan began its Big Ten conference campaign at home on Saturday, beating No. 20 Illinois 7-1 in front of 1,224 fans.
Now, with Wisconsin on deck this weekend, the Wolverines look forward to settling into normal school and practice routines. These recent home games have allowed Michigan to practice both as a team and as individual units, on the infield and outfield surfaces they are most comfortable with.
“I mean we obviously check out the other team’s fields before the game and their facilities, but it’s hard to be on the road,” Findlay said. “You get out of your daily routine of sleeping in your own bed and waking up at home. But now that were at home we get to do a little bit more on your own work. It’s a little bit more relaxed of a (practice) atmosphere.”