As late-night lightning and thunder go off outside the team's hotel, a full day is coming to an end for the Cal softbal team in Tallahassee on the eve of its NCAA Regional opener against Mississippi State on Friday (5 p.m., ET; 2 p.m., PT).
After a long travel day on Wednesday, the players (and staff) got a little extra rest in the morning. Breakfast at the hotel was open until 11 a.m., so many of us took advantage of the late morning after having left Berkeley to travel across the entire country on Wednesday at 3:30 a.m., PT.
After a relaxing morning in bed and at the breakfast buffet, it was off for another busy day.
The team's official practice didn't start until 2:15 p.m., ET, but the squad arrived to Florida State's Joanne Graf Field about an hour early itching to go. The bus rolled by the Seminoles' impressive baseball field and pulled up to an equally impressive softball venue. But the team seemed more concerned about getting in a crisp one-hour workout that ended with head coach Diane Ninemyer addressing the players in the dugout (see photo above and right).
Following practice, the team stopped briefly to allow everyone to pick up a few items at a local shopping center, before having about an hour back at the hotel to get ready for team dinner at the Olive Garden. Everyone was pretty hungry and busy eating as the restaurant's famous salad and breadsticks were flowing freely. But, the atmosophere was on the serious and quiet side as the team focused on preparing for its NCAA Regional opener agianst Mississippi State on Friday.
When the bus arrived back at hotel, the players got some time to work on papers and study for finals while the coaches and administrators headed back to the campus to attend an administrative meeting that had been moved back an hour because earlier lightning and rain had delayed the day's schedule.
A team meeting that started at about 9 p.m., ET, wrapped up the day's schedule. Coach Ninemire and media relations associate director Kyle McRae talked to the players about working with the media to start the meeting. Equipment manager Randy Venters ended the session on a high note by surprising the players with brand new uniforms to wear during the post-season.
Check back in later for more.
Photo by equipment manager turned photographer Randy Venters