Posted March 29, 2017
Collegiate softball in Wisconsin and the rest of the Midwest always turns into a wild roller coaster ride due to sporadic weather patterns. The weather often creates disadvantages and problems for softball teams.
To combat the rain and snow, the UW-River Falls softball team traveled earlier this month to Florida to play in tournaments, as it does nearly every year. This year, the Falcons played in Clermont and Kissimmee in the PFX Games and the Rebel Spring Games.
The Falcons played more than 10 games in less than a week, and although it can be an enjoyable time traveling to Florida, it can take a toll on a team as well.
“It’s more or less the 12 games in the span of seven days,” said UWRF Softball Head Coach Amber Dohlman, who is in her second season. “When we’re up here (in Wisconsin), we play a doubleheader, and you get a break, play a doubleheader, and you get a break. There’s no time for us to figure anything out down there.”
With the inadequate preparation time, Dohlman added that it creates major pressure on her team to perform.
“That’s a fourth of your season,” said Dohlman. “After spring break, we’re almost halfway done with our season. If you have a bad week it decides your whole season.”
Besides traveling long distances, the other large issue the team faces is finding places to play before the weather conditions allow it. Multiple domes are located around the Twin Cities metropolitan area, but booking a game in one of them can cost a pretty penny.
Finally, the lack of continuity within the rules at the different venues the team plays at creates a large gap between ballparks. Dohlman said that every dome the team plays in has its specific set of rules.
“If we’re in a dome, and it hits the ceiling it’s an automatic out,” Dohlman said. “Depending on the size of the dome that we play in, any home run is considered a double, because of the distance of the fences and the heights of the fences.”
The dimensions of a field have a large impact on how the game is played, but other features such as the speed of the field affect the flow of a game as well. Dohlman said that the turf is a quicker-playing surface, which can create havoc on a routine ground ball. Dohlman said if her team can avoid playing in domes, it would.
“They cost a ridiculous amount to play in. To play in Rochester, the Luther Dome Tournament, it costs $350 a game,” said Dohlman.
The Falcons are home now after going 5-6 on the trip to Florida. Due to some scheduling rearrangements, the Falcons’ first home game is slated for April 8 against UW-Stevens Point. Until then, the coaches and players will cross their fingers for winter to be no more.