Last year, the Castleton State College softball team could be seen on their softball field in early spring shagging fly balls and corralling routine grounders. This year, Mother Nature forced the team to trade in their gloves for shovels in hopes of one day playing a home game.
Until spring break, snow completely covered the softball and baseball fields while Spartan Stadium had an intimidating fortress of snow walls surrounding it. On separate occasions, softball and baseball players could be seen shoveling snow in hopes of speeding up the process. They soon realized their efforts were futile.
“We have had six games canceled and four postponed. We haven’t been on our field at all,” said sophomore softball player Brittany Brayman on April 1. “Of course it was hard to walk by it every day, we wanted to be out there so bad.”
Teams for weeks had been relegated to Shape Gymnasium for practices, which bring its own set of challenges for players.
“It’s hard because the gym is so small. Outfielders can’t even get a fly ball and infielders see bounces they never will outside,” said Stephanie Sylvester a catcher on the softball team.
The lengthy Vermont winter forced what would be home games into long, tireless road trips. It also forced coaches and administrators to log hefty hours to reschedule games.
And home games being moved to other venues has caused issues with the budget.
“Despite the venue change, we are still responsible for paying the officials, the rental fee (for the venue), food, buses, and hotel fair for each contest,” said Deanna Tyson the Athletic Director at CSC.
The baseball team recently completed a trip that saw a home doubleheader moved to Franklin Pierce College. This trip required the team to play their games at 7:22 p.m. and 9:55 p.m., only to return home in the wee hours of the morning.
If the late arrival wasn’t bad enough, the team then had to report back to Glenbrook Gymnasium for a 6 a.m. departure for their double-header the next morning.
“It was terrible. We barely even got any sleep,” said senior Joe Borowski. “It is not easy trying to get rest on those buses. You’re basically sitting on top of each other.”
In a move to preserve the Spartans chances of success in the next day’s games, Head Coach Ted Shipley left behind Steven Jurkiewicz and Ryan Crowley who were set to start at pitcher and catcher the next morning.
Though the lack of sleep can harm a team, Shipley doesn’t think all the traveling is necessarily a bad thing.
“There’s good and bad in everything. With all the travel it has given our team a great chance to bond and come together,” he said.
It seems to be paying off so far as the team is first in the North Atlantic Conference with a 12-3 mark and 15-7 overall.
All sports have been affected by the winter but Tyson stressed that no team had been more affected by it all then the baseball team.
Although it’s been tough, Tori Ferron, the lone senior on the softball team, has remained positive and extremely understanding throughout her final campaign.
“Playing softball in Vermont there is always a chance of bad weather affecting our season,” said Ferron. “It’s unfortunate it’s my senior year, but everyone in our conference is dealing with the same bad weather.”