© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
TECHNOTE: 90.5 FM and AM870 reception
Sports Beat content is reported by Sports Journalism students in the Michigan State School of Journalism.

Spring is here, which means the return of high school softball

Carter Landis

The DeWitt softball team is ready to practice and play outdoors, even if mid-Michigan’s cold spring weather means bundling up. It’s time to play ball.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Softball practice is starting again for the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA), with the season right around the corner. For players and coaches, this means the end of preseason workouts and conditioning, and the beginning of real preparation for the season.

It also means that the cold winters spent inside the gym are no longer, with practices moving outside for the first time this year. While there may not be a foot of snow on the ground anymore, the residual effects of the cold weather still remain.

It’s still early in the spring for Michigan, and residents of the state know that the weather can be unpredictable. Days where the weather is on the colder side can be the worst days to practice.

Adam Nolen, the head softball coach at DeWitt High School, said that his team has to be ready for anything.

“I think every year we can count our different variables when it comes to the weather,” he said. “Sometimes it’s warm, like this week, we’ve been able to get out on our field, and it’s been soft, we’ve had a little sun here and there, but we also know that changes pretty rapidly in Michigan. So we have to be able to adjust.”

The Panthers’ indoor facility is positioned directly next to their field, which benefits them if they cannot practice outdoors. That makes for an easy transition, if they have to go inside due to poor weather.

Kyra Shadduck, a DeWitt junior pitcher and infielder, said the adjustment period from indoors to outdoors is not easy.

“I think last year it was a little bit challenging, trying to get used to the cold,” she said. “We had to do more stretches in warm-ups, and focus on warming up our arms more. We definitely had to wear layers too, so we had to adjust to playing with layers on as well.”

Teammate Gabbie Brya, a junior and an infielder, tries not to think about the weather too much.

“I think the cold can definitely get to us at some points, but we push through and encourage each other, so that helps,” she said.

In cold weather, the human body uses more energy than normal in order to function properly. Because of this, blood does not flow to the limbs like it should, causing arms and legs to be more susceptible to strains or even tears.

“We have to play in that weather, they understand that and we talk to them about being prepared, wearing layers, and we have to practice in it,” Nolen said. “We’re going to have a slight drizzle sometimes, we’ll have cold and windy conditions. We might play a game the day after a snow that melts. We do have to be able to prepare for those things, and I think our kids do a pretty good job understanding that.”

Players have a higher chance of suffering a serious injury in the cold, which can end up derailing a season if the injury is severe enough. Shadduck said she doesn’t see it this way.

“I don’t think [it causes] huge problems, I think we’ve played through almost everything,” she said. “We know the other team is going through the same thing, so we just have to adapt to it in any way that we can.”

Softball players, along with baseball players, experience similar playing and practicing conditions, as well as the potential for injuries. Shadduck and Brya feel the disadvantages aren’t gradual for either side.

“I don’t think there’s huge disadvantages at all, I think they go through the same thing as well,” Shadduck said. “I think they practice around the same time every day, during the week we practice the same.”

Brya agreed.

“It’s mostly we’re playing through the same conditions, and we practice in the same conditions,” she said.

Throughout the remainder of the spring, Nolen, Shadduck, Brya, and the rest of the Panthers will deal with the ever-changing Michigan weather. Their season started April 5.

To help strengthen our local reporting as WKAR's fiscal year ends, we need 75 new or upgraded sustainers by June 30th. Become a new monthly donor or increase your donation to support the trustworthy journalism you'll rely on before Election Day. Donate now.