When life hands you lemons, make some lemonade. Because it’s a long bus ride and you’re bound to get thirsty.
A late-winter snag during the construction of Indian Creek’s new fieldhouse and auditorium rendered the Braves’ softball field unplayable this season — forcing the team to play all of its 2022 games on the road.
Though it’s certainly not an ideal situation, the Braves have chosen to embrace the adversity and focus on the positives that life on the road has brought. Time spent traveling to games has become bonding time, a chance to listen to music and get to know one another better — almost like a miniature slumber party of sorts.
”The bus rides are honestly our home,” sophomore catcher Ally Gavin said. “I feel like that makes up for us not having a field.”
The team has struggled to win games, with just one victory heading into Wednesday’s contest at West Vigo, but it’s hopeful that this short-term hardship will lead to a big future payoff.
During fieldhouse construction, it was discovered that some of the utilities that needed to be accessed were sitting directly underneath home plate on the varsity field. Since this would have been the last season playing on it anyway, it didn’t make sense to take on what would have been a significant cost to save it for one season.
“I think we could have maybe put a Band-Aid on it, but it was going to be so expensive,” Indian Creek athletic director Derek Perry said.
So instead, Perry went about the business of calling everyone on the home schedule and asking if they’d be willing to host instead. Slated home games against the likes of Sullivan, Northview, South Putnam and Jennings County instead became road trips for the second year in a row.
(The Braves will end up traveling to most of those schools again next spring, too, so as not to cause issues with any existing contracts.)
“We’ve told them up front it’s going to be a long season, a lot of traveling, and it’ll make us tougher and make us appreciate when we get back home,” Indian Creek coach Gary Mitchell said. “We’ve got a good, resilient group of girls. They all keep their head up. We’ll win our share of them this year.”
”It feels almost more like travel ball, because we don’t really have a home field,” senior shortstop Emily Todor added. “We’re just always playing at a random field.”
At least in a couple of cases, those random fields are a little closer to home. In addition to reasonable road trips to Greenwood and Whiteland, the Braves get a “home” contest today against Cloverdale in Edinburgh, and they’ll get to have a proper senior night — sort of — on May 10 when they host North Putnam at Franklin College.
It’s not the season that the players had envisioned, but they’ve managed to keep their focus on the silver linings. For one, Indian Creek has made the most of that extra bus time, with the players growing tighter with each trip.
“I think it builds trust,” Gavin said. “The trust that they’ll be at the bag, that they’ll have that pop fly.”
One other big plus? Since they’re never the home team, the Braves never have to worry about doing all of the home team’s usual postgame field work — raking the infield and all that good stuff.
“That part is awesome,” senior pitcher Alyssa Lewis said as her teammates nodded in agreement. “That is the best part.”
While the seniors won’t get to reap the future benefits, Indian Creek will have its own home field next year — and the underclassmen will eventually get to take advantage of new indoor facilities as well once the fieldhouse and weight room are completed.
For now, the Braves get a very unique character-building experience that should leave the players with some stories to tell.
“One thing we’ve all learned is … you have to be flexible,” Perry said. “I think it just shows the kind of kids that we have.”