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  • Duel at the Dome presents unique game environment, gives Syracuse chance to open home season indoors

    first_imgA foul ball would careen into the stands, followed by an accompanying chorus of “heads up,” sending some children ducking their heads and fans readying themselves for an opportunity to catch a game ball.Syracuse went undefeated in both games against Harvard during the team’s weekend home opener, but the second Duel at the Dome also presented a rare opportunity for a March softball game in still-snowy Syracuse. The sight, which drew many families and high-school-aged softball players, also saw several high-speed balls being fouled back into the crowd, which forced fans to be extra cautious.Dan Johnson, a Syracuse resident, advised his 7-year-old granddaughter — who was excited at the thought of catching a game ball — to be alert during Saturday’s game.“Some of the balls really came down hard that I really had concern for her,” Johnson said, moments after deflecting a yellow softball as it headed in his direction. “I had to make sure she paid attention when left-handed batters were up because those are the ones whose balls would come back.”A couple of line drives during Saturday’s game could have been dangerous if they struck an onlooker who wasn’t paying attention, said Johnson, who previously managed an indoor softball league in Central New York.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSome airborne balls would clank loudly against one of the Carrier Dome’s metal benches and bounce for a few rows. Syracuse and Harvard players, who were seated in the stands along the third-base foul line, were at the ready with gloves in hand or on their laps should a stray ball sail in their direction.“We don’t have a net to kind of catch the balls, so it is kind of scary at first,” said junior first baseman Jasmine Watson. “But I know the other team, they weren’t really used to it, so they were putting their gloves up, too.”Like last year’s inaugural duel, a blue curtain descended along the would-be 50-yard line, partitioning the college game from the field used for several high school matches that were also played on the turf this weekend. A net was set up as the backstop, wrapping around a segment of the first-base foul line to the press rows located behind home plate.With the Dome setup, the teams’ benches were separated by an aisle instead of in opposing dugouts, putting the teams within feet of each other. The teams used the same set of stairs to reach the field, which sometimes meant having to jostle sideways passed one another during field changes. When the Crimson bench celebrated a sixth-inning homer that sent Sunday’s game into extra innings, players on the Syracuse bench looked straight ahead as Harvard players spilled onto the field.The opposite was also true.“After we scored a run, I’m coming up trying to high-five my girls and they’re going down trying to pump up their girls, I’m like ‘This is weird, isn’t it?” head coach Leigh Ross said. “But it’s such a neat event and a neat environment to play that I don’t think there’s a way to work that out.”As for the foul balls that careened into the crowd, potentially putting fans in harm’s way, Ross said that’s the nature of the sport. But she said she still cautioned her team and told her players to prepare when a left-handed batter approached the plate.“You really have to be paying attention to the game,” Ross said, “because the ball can come your way any time.” Comments Published on March 25, 2013 at 12:55 am Contact Debbie: [email protected] | @debbietruong Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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