first_img Published on February 17, 2015 at 12:30 am Contact Connor: [email protected] | @connorgrossman Don’t ask head coach Leigh Ross if she’s bothered by the 47 days and 31 games that stand between Syracuse’s season opener and its first home game.“No, we’re used to it,” she says.Syracuse (4-6) will take five round-trip flights to nearly every time zone in the country, endure more consecutive road games than any other SU athletic team and spend more time on the road leading up to its first home game than any other Atlantic Coast Conference softball team. The Orange is two weeks into its season, but still more than a month away from its March 24 home opener at SU Softball Stadium.The tumultuous stretch is nothing novel for Ross’ team, which has averaged nearly 29 consecutive road games to start the last 10 seasons, largely because of a northeast climate that coats the field in snow and ice until the end of March — and even into April last season.Ross denied that the stretch of road games affects the program’s ability to attract recruits, but the stress, academic inconvenience and other effects of countless hours of cross-country travel in a 55-game season can have a toll on the players.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“It comes with the territory,” Ross said. “I think that we have to be smarter with what we do while we’re here and get our rest and our sleep … But it’s not even a second thought.”The travel doesn’t have to be a second thought for Ross, but almost everything regarding the travel is for Lindsay Nandin, the program’s director of operations. She’s in charge of booking flights for 25 people and around 15 hotel rooms for the team to stay in almost a year in advance.A utility player for the Orange from 2006–09, Nandin now contributes to the program by tripling up as the team’s travel agent, meteorologist and concierge. She often scours the mobile weather reports in the hours leading up to team flights.An unexpected late-season snowstorm the day before a weekend series against Georgia Tech last year caused the games to be moved 960 miles south to Atlanta.“There’s injuries, academic issues and all kinds of things that happen so you just have to be ready to change certain things,” Nandin said, “and know the rules of all these airlines and hotels and different contracts that could be changing.”Ross has been through all the ups and down of the team traveling entering her ninth season as head coach. While known for keeping a cool head about issues with the players, she once forced a Philadelphia airport staff member into sending a bus to bring the team back to Syracuse at 11 p.m.Regardless if the travel logistics work out, she says it’s the time together on the road that brings her team chemistry and not the day-to-day grind of coming and going to practice.“The stories all come when you’re on the road,” Ross said.Some evoke a bad memory, as was the case in the Philadelphia airport. Others may evoke another sense, like a five-hour bus ride last season that required the team to pull over to get fresh air after the bus driver “blew up the bathroom,” pitcher Lindsey Larkin said.Having endured plenty of road trips entering her third season, Larkin is a part of a veteran core that has to keep the young nucleus of players prepared to handle the road. They often spend downtime in hotel lobbies studying as a team to keep up on missed schoolwork.Larkin said it helps hold everyone accountable. But even after two full seasons worth of time on the road, she’s still learning how to keep track of everything.“I’m an organized person as it is but you learn you’re not as organized as you think,” Larkin said. “You’re not on top of things as you think.”She a plays a role for players like Syracuse’s freshman starting shortstop Sammy Fernandez, who said packing was the most stressful part of the intimidating process.Her biggest fear is forgetting what she checks most often: her equipment. Everything will come to a screeching halt for the .441-hitting freshman if she arrives in California on Friday without her helmet, elbow guard and glove, she said.The limits of practicing in Manley Field House may cripple the team’s ability to take true ground balls or hit live batting practice. But Fernandez doesn’t think her team is at a disadvantage, because the team has been successful in years past with a similar stretch of games.“This is our favorite time of the year, this is what we work for,” Larkin said. “Travel is everything we look up to. We work every day to get out of Manley and out onto a field and play teams that are making us better.”Correction: In an original version of this story, the amount of games in Syracuse’s schedule was incorrect. SU plays 55 games this season. The Daily Orange regrets this error. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more