UND softball nearing a school record for wins -- without any help from the home park
The UND softball team is 43 games into the season, three wins shy of the program record and one win out of first place in the Big Sky Conference.
What the Fighting Hawks have not done this season is play a home game outdoors.
On Monday, UND officials announced that this weekend's home series against Northern Colorado, scheduled for Apollo Park, has been canceled due to unplayable field conditions thanks to the area's cold, snowy spring.
"I don't know what it's going to do to us (in the standings)," fourth-year head coach Jordan Stevens said. "Competitively, we wanted to get these games in."
Stevens said he and others shoveled portions of Apollo Park on Saturday, but even the areas without snow are now "a soupy mess."
It's the second-straight week UND has been forced to alter the schedule. Last week, UND was forced to play its scheduled home games in Ogden, Utah, against Weber State, due to the field conditions at Apollo.
That created a long road trip for the Fighting Hawks, who were in Cedar City, Utah, to face Southern Utah for a weekend series. Instead of returning home, UND stayed on the road to play in Ogden early in the week and was swept by the Wildcats.
UND's next challenge will be to come off the extended rest to travel to Sacramento State next weekend.
"To perform at a high level after sitting for 10 days in the heart of the season is difficult," Stevens said. "But after that, we're going to try to cram eight games in seven days."
It's the first time in Stevens' tenure that UND hasn't been able to play outdoors by mid-April.
The team first hosted a game at Apollo on April 5 of last year. In 2016, UND hosted for the first time April 1.
But the poor spring weather certainly isn't unprecedented, either. In 2013, UND wasn't able to host a softball game until May 3.
The difference between now and then is UND finished 10-30 in 2013, well out of any postseason contention. This year, though, the Fighting Hawks are in the hunt to compete in the Big Sky tournament.
At the end of March, UND was able to host a game indoors for the first time when the Alerus Center, which opened in 2001, set up its football field to hold a softball series against Montana.
UND officials said this weekend, however, that the Alerus Center and other alternative venues were either unavailable or the option wasn't feasible.
UND now has just one remaining weekend scheduled for Apollo Park—May 4-5 against Idaho State.
The Fighting Hawks (21-22 overall, 7-5 Big Sky) will then hope to head back to Ogden for the Big Sky Conference postseason tournament (May 10-12).