Go Hoosiers!
    Go Hoosiers!

    Go Hoosiers!

    Feb. 13, 2010

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    The Indiana softball team left Bloomington Thursday afternoon with the intentions of getting the 2010 season underway Saturday morning at the K-Club Classic hosted by Kennesaw State University. They ran into a couple congested areas of traffic in Louisville and Nashville, Tenn., on the way down, but nine hours later we arrived at our hotel around 11:30 p.m. The team went to their rooms and got some rest because they knew that Friday would bring their first practice on REAL DIRT and GRASS of the season! Needless to say, everyone was excited.

    Everyone got up and ate breakfast Friday morning and boarded the bus for the 10:00 a.m. practice at Bailey Field on the campus of Kennesaw State University (KSU). They have a very nice complex with the baseball and softball fields next to each other and a very nice playing field...must be nice to be able to play almost year `round.

    Friday (10:00 a.m. ET) The team went through a spirited practice with the pitchers getting loose in the bullpens while the field players took ground balls on the infield and fly balls in the outfield. After everyone made the adjustment to dirt from the FieldTurf in Mellencamp Pavilion, it was just like riding a bike and everything came back to them. When everyone had a chance to take some batting practice and ground balls, we boarded the bus and headed back to the hotel. Since we had the rest of the day to kill, the team went to see a movie (Valentine's Day) later that afternoon and then to dinner.

    Friday (12:00 p.m. ET) The biggest development of the weekend would take place while they were in the movie theater, as just shy of two inches of heavy, wet snow fell to the ground. None of this fazed the team (since there was at least twice that much on the ground in Bloomington when we left), but we knew that this part of the country is not used to dealing with snow at all so we could be in for a treat.

    Friday (8:00 p.m. ET)
    Late Friday, the coaches and tournament officials decided to push the start of the games back from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday in hopes that the snow would melt away by then. But the cold weather overnight and early Saturday did not allow for that and Saturday's games were forced to be cancelled.

    Saturday (11:00 a.m. ET)
    The IU coaching staff contacted the Kennesaw State staff and set up a time for the Hoosiers to go to the indoor batting cages at the field and get some swings in since they were not going to be playing any games.

    Saturday (1:00 p.m. ET)
    When the team arrived at the field just before 1:00 p.m., the Kennesaw State team was hard at work clearing off the snow from the tarp that had been covering the infield. As the team was getting ready to exit the bus to go hit, head coach Michelle Gardner addressed the team on the bus and told them to be ready to do whatever KSU needed to get the field ready to play...and she meant ANYTHING! The team had not driven nine hours to not play any games, so she was willing to lend a hand to help get the field ready to play on Sunday.

    Saturday (1:30 p.m. ET)
    Coach Gardner continued to survey the field with the Kennesaw State staff, trying to come up with a way to clear the snow off the outfield grass while the sun was still up so it could start to dry and be ready for Sunday. The work the KSU team did on the infield was huge, because it kept the infield in tremendous shape and in good condition if games were to be played on Sunday. After tossing around a handful of ideas, Coach Gardner decided that the only option was to manually remove all of the snow from the grass. And to do that, she would have to call on the entire team - just as she had prepared them for before leaving the bus.

    When everyone was done hitting, every member of the team grabbed a rake/shovel/broom and started chipping in. Not one player complained or asked why they were doing it - they all knew that they came to Georgia to play softball and that's what they intended to do.

    KSU provided a John Deere Gator and a pair of wheelbarrows to use to haul the snow away, so the team went to work. (NOTE: The KSU players and coaches had been working on the infield for over four hours, so they took a well-deserved lunch break to warm up and regain some energy.)

    Saturday (2:00 p.m. ET)
    After just a half hour of work, green grass could easily be seen in left and right field in between the mounds of snow. Everyone - players, coaches and staff - continued to plug away all in the name of playing softball. With the team hard at work, the sun was also doing its job and melting what snow it could, making it easier to move the remaining snow around.

    Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET)
    After roughly an hour working on the field, the team could start to see that they were actually going to be able to clear the ENTIRE outfield of snow! With a majority of the outfield now green and snow just remaining in the corners down the line, the Wright State University softball team showed up to relieve any Hoosiers that needed a break. They worked at it for a while before it was their turn to head indoors for batting practice. So the Hoosiers picked right back up where they left off and continued to haul loads upon loads of snow off the field.

    Kennesaw State head coach Scott Whitlock, who has been at Kennesaw State for 25 years and KSU baseball coach Mike Sansing is in his 20th season and both came out and commented that they have never seen anything like what the Hoosiers did in their lives. Coming from head coaches that have both won a pair of national championships, which is high praise and not something to take lightly.

    Saturday (3:10 p.m. ET)
    Finally, the team has had enough. The only snow that remained were the piles that were made down the left field line. Wright State offered to finish clearing the field after their hitting session, so the Hoosiers boarded the bus extremely proud of the job they had just completed.

    We have to thank Drew Gleason from the Atlanta Chapter of the IU Alumni Association for picking a restaurant close to our hotel to try to have a "Meet and Greet" with alumni from the area. Due to the bad weather, he was the only one that was able to make it, but we certainly appreciate his effort in trying to set something up. The team arrived at the hotel during the second half of the men's basketball game at Wisconsin, so we were able to talk with Mr. Gleason for a little while and find out how people down here are dealing with the snow. It was a good visit and very nice to see another friendly IU face.




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