Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography and KK Leddy
Written by Sam Herder in collaboration with KK Leddy
NDSU junior pitcher KK Leddy shows us what two weeks of winter softball action is like for the Bison on the road. The team is set for back-to-back weekend trips to the Ole Miss Red & Blue Classic and Duke Inaugural Tournament.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22
A typical day of travel usually begins with alarms going off at 3 in the morning to catch a 6 a.m. flight. Today, we were fortunate to sleep in and get there at 9:20 a.m. Morning classes had some players hustling over to the airport, but the team has this whole traveling thing down to a science. We actually got checked in and halfway through security before the coaches even got there.
The team is always ready for curveballs when going on the road. Five minutes before boarding, our coach came over and told us that we won’t be traveling to Oxford, Mississippi, to play at Ole Miss because rain is in the forecast for the entire weekend. We had to figure out a Plan B while unloading our bags off the plane. We couldn’t just sit around all weekend so practice plans were set. Since we were no longer traveling, we still had to go to class and many of us had to go straight from the airport to campus.
ADJUSTED PRACTICE SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, 2/22: Later in the day, pitchers had cardio and the rest of the team hit for an hour at the Dacotah Field Bubble.
FRIDAY, 2/23: Pitchers had practice from 7-8 p.m. We had to work around football and soccer because both teams had the Bubble. Pitchers dipped into the ice bath to make sure we are taking care of our bodies. The rest of the team had the day off because there was no time or room available in the Bubble.
SATURDAY, 2/24: The whole team had practice from 4-7 p.m. We had to wait for the Summit League Indoor Championships meet to finish. The track teams used the Bubble to warm up so there were track athletes everywhere running around us while we practiced which made things interesting to say the least.
SUNDAY, 2/25: We had another practice from 12-4 p.m., and basically did the same thing as Saturday. The golf team was in there this time so we had to wait for them to be done.
MONDAY 2/26- WEDNESDAY 2/28
On Monday, our schedule returned to normal after a surprising weekend in Fargo. I had class from 12-1 p.m., and 2-3 with practice starting at 3. I have class from 2-3 with my teammate Zoe Stavrou, so we ride to class together before hustling over to the Bubble. Practice is typically from 3-6 and afterward, I usually go to treatment either to ice my arm or even get my muscles rubbed out by our trainer.
Tuesdays start with 6 a.m. lift for about an hour. Since I don’t have class until 12:30 p.m., I’ll pitch in the morning from 10-11. On Tuesdays, I have classes from 12:30-3:15 p.m. Today, I didn’t get to practice until 3:30. I always wear my practice clothes to class so that as soon as I leave, I can head straight to the Bubble. We have practice from 3-6 and I stay after for treatment again.
Wednesday is the same as Monday, but today we get all of our clothes for traveling and our itineraries from head coach Darren Mueller. This comes after practice and before anyone can leave we always double-check to make sure we have everything, including our uniforms, gloves, cleats, bats, etc.
Today was a very early morning with our flight to Minneapolis leaving at 5 a.m. We had to be at the airport at 3:15. We flew straight from Minneapolis to Raleigh, North Carolina. On that flight, we had an hour-long study hall. These allow us to keep up with our class work.
When we arrived in Raleigh, we went straight to lunch at Which Wich. After lunch, we went and drove around the University of North Carolina-Raleigh, and went to a museum that was full of basketball memorabilia. We even got to see their basketball arena, the Dean Smith Center. UNC is right down the road from Duke, so we made sure to take a mini-tour through both campuses while we were there.
After visiting the basketball arena, we checked into the Sheraton Hotel. Our roommates are random and this week I had sophomore outfielder Stephanie Soriano. We had some downtime until we had to be ready for dinner so everyone usually takes a nap because flying is so exhausting. We left for dinner at 6 and ate at Road Page Grill. After that, it was back to the hotel to shut it down for the night.
“For school, my grades are actually better when we travel and I think it’s because we have so many study halls. They make sure we keep up with our work because we’re on the road for three days.” – KK Leddy
GAME DAY VS. DUKE
We had the hotel’s breakfast waiting for us at 7 a.m. We all woke up on our own and ate. Breakfast was served until 9, and we don’t usually eat as a team because some people have different routines in the morning. We didn’t play until 4 p.m., so we had study hall for an hour in one of the hotel’s conference rooms after breakfast.
After that, we got ready and met downstairs for lunch and went to Panera Bread. We wore our uniforms because we go straight to the field from lunch.
This is Duke’s inaugural season, so the stadium is brand new, and we were able to check out their brand new facilities.
We usually warm up two hours before the game. Before we start warm-ups, we always play hacky sack. We aren’t the best but it allows us to have fun for a little bit. We are a pretty goofy team so we’re having fun no matter what we’re doing.
FINAL SCORE: NDSU 10, DUKE 4
WE WON! We were all super pumped and whenever we beat a Power 5 conference school, Coach Mueller, or Darren, as we call him, always gets us ice cream.
Darren also gives us one night to spend with our parents during away trips, and it’s usually a night when we don’t play early in the morning. Me and Julia Luciano’s families went to Clouds Brewing and it was delicious. (We just stuck to the food menu.)
Our curfew is 10 p.m. It’s a precious amount of time we have with family so we try to make the most of it. My parents, sister and brother-in-law drove from Jacksonville, Florida (my hometown), which was a 9-hour drive.
When we got back to the hotel, we were in for the night and had to give our team manager our lunch orders for in between tomorrow’s games. We usually get this delivered straight to the field and this time, it was going to be Jimmy John’s.
GAME DAY VS. YALE AND KENT STATE
Today, we woke up for breakfast and headed to the field at 10:30 a.m. We played at 1 and 6:30, making it a long day at the field.
We had the same warm-up routine as yesterday, including a little hacky. Our warm-ups before games never change except the order we do defense or offense. Today, we did defense first then hit. It all depends on the schedule we get from coach.
FINAL SCORE: NDSU 3, YALE 0
In between games, we ate our Jimmy John’s and hung out in Duke’s indoor batting cages. After we were done eating, we played around more with the hacky, trying to stay as loose as possible because we have another game.
When it was time for us to hit, we warmed up again and got ready for our second game. While warming up, our team manager Haley came around and got our pizza orders for dinner, which is always easiest to get when we have late games. Today, we got it from Mellow Mushroom. When we get pizza, you pick a partner to share the pizza with. It can be with whomever, and Soriano and I got meat lovers. Of course, it was delicious.
FINAL SCORE: NDSU 3, KENT STATE 0
We got done around 8:25 p.m., and it was straight to the vans and back to the hotel. We waited for our pizza in the lobby and as soon as it arrived, we went to our room.
Saturday night is usually when I start packing. Our Sunday mornings are always early and tomorrow we are leaving at 7:30 a.m. I packed my bag that night and got everything ready so that I could sleep in as late as possible.
GAME DAY VS LEHIGH
My alarm went off at 6:20 a.m. and I got ready before getting breakfast. We had to eat quickly because breakfast opened at 7 and we had to start packing the vans at 7:15.
We have 30 bags we have to fit in two vans and we are pros at it. We can pack a van in under five minutes and this morning was probably one of our fastest times. I should note that these aren’t light. Generally, they weigh around 50 pounds, so it’s not as easy as it seems.
We were able to warm up on the field since we were the first game of the day and this means picture time. Whenever we go somewhere, we always make it a priority to take a team picture on the field.
We played hacky again before warm-ups and got ready for the game.
FINAL SCORE: NDSU 6, LEHIGH 2
We swept the tournament! 4-0! We were all super pumped after this win.
After the game, we quickly said goodbye to our friends and family before getting into the vans. Darren took us to see Duke’s basketball court at Cameron Indoor Stadium and it was awesome. We couldn’t stay long, but we got some pictures and then headed to the airport. We changed right outside at departures at the airport. This year, we have had to change outside of the airport a lot but none of us mind. It’s always funny and a fun little memory we will never forget.
After getting through security, Darren let us pick what we wanted to eat. We all said Five Guys. Of course. We also reminded him about our ice cream, but we decided to get it during our layover in Minneapolis.
When we arrived in Minneapolis, we went straight to Dairy Queen and got our ice cream. After we were done eating, we went to our gate and had a one-hour study hall. It was a perfect time because of our three-hour layover.
We left for Fargo at 10:15 p.m. and got in around 11:30. We got our bags and went home, so we could be in class Monday morning with four more wins in our back pocket.
“The experiences we get on the road, you will remember forever with those people. They become family. We travel so much and we’re all from all over. Me being from Florida and others being from California, that’s our family. Our team is super close.” – KK Leddy