The 'Road Warriors'
Pacific's softball team faces the sudden possibility of playing every single game on the road this year
The Cleveland Indians have nothing on the Pacific softball team.
It's one thing to have four games called for snow and have your next home series moved to a neighboring city, like the Indians faced this week. But try playing your entire schedule on the road. Every game played on an opponent's field or a neutral site in front of fans cheering for them, not us.
This is reality for Pacific softball in 2007.
'It's frustrating,' said Pacific head coach Tim Hill. 'We have had 12 games rained out. We've recovered some of them, but now everything is piling up at the end of the year. That makes it rough.'
Rain is only partly to blame for the Boxers' road trip of 22 games and counting. Progress is also to blame. Pacific's longtime home, Lincoln Park, is unplayable this season as Pacific and the City of Forest Grove work to build a new softball facility along a with a new baseball field and track.
Unfortunately, the team's scheduled home away from home - Gordon Faber Recreation Complex in Hillsboro - has not held up well against the past month's rain. The deluge has made the field soggy at best, even on a sunny day, making it unlikely that the Boxers will play at the field this year. The City of Hillsboro's grounds crew has learned the hard way that having a college field ready for play in the Oregon spring is a science in itself.
As a result, the Boxers have been on a two-month long journey that has included stops in Portland, Tacoma, Los Angeles and four 'home games' played in Pasco, Wash.
Two months and 22 games later, however, you wouldn't know the difference. The Boxers entered Tuesday's twinbill with George Fox (another pair of home games moved to an opponent's home field) with a record of 14-6. After losing their first four games of the season to league-leading Whitworth in those Pasco 'home games,' Pacific has gone 14-2 against a mix of conference foes, local NAIA rivals and nationally ranked Division III powers.
The young Pacific squad, which includes 11 freshmen and starts six of them, is hitting .285 as a team and has 11 home runs, more than any year in recent history. Pacific's pitching boasts a 2.14 earned run average, second best in the conference. The team's top pitcher, Miranda McNealy, has thrown two no-hitters and combined with Andrea Bansen for a perfect game.
Road woes? Hardly. The Boxers are road warriors.
Hill has been impressed with the team's focus. They understand that, no matter where you play, the pitching rubber is still 44 feet from home plate and the bases are still 60 feet apart.
'I think it's a confidence-builder in that they will be able to play in the future and use this as a great learning experience,' Hill said. 'When they step on the field, adversity will be a minor thing to them.'
So as the Boxers pack up their bags and get ready for another stop on the 'Boxer Ball' barnstorming tour, they can look ahead to the future of a new stadium at Lincoln Park and enjoy the winning ways the road has provided.
'It's worth the wait, but having a good season despite the adversity we face makes the waiting easier,' Hill said. 'The game's always more fun when you win.'