CLEVELAND - The first day of spring felt like the middle of winter in Cleveland. Despite the cold, cloudy weather, the softball field at Cleveland State University looks like it's ready for a ballgame, from a distance.
But once you try to walk on the field, it's a muddy mess on top and frozen underneath.
Vikings' head coach Becky Norris loves the first day of spring, but she would really love to play some home games.
All three games at CSU, including the home opener, have been canceled this weekend.
Next weekend's games to close out the month of March are already in jeopardy with more rain, snow and cold forecasted.
The players don't mind playing cold weather, they just want to play games.
Here's the problem.
Underneath six inches of mud and water, there's still two feet of frozen ground.
"With the frigid weather this winter the ground is still frozen underneath, so when the temperature warms up water comes to the surface creating mud which is how the ground will dry out eventually, but it's still frozen deep down," Norris said.
More northern colleges are switching to synthetic dirt infields for better drainage.
CSU prefers a natural clay and dirt combo.
"The field here is natural and we love the natural surface, but when you have a bad winter like this winter, it's really tough," Norris said.
Coach Norris is used to cold, soggy spring conditions, but it's how relentless the winter weather has been.
"There are no breaks from the bad weather and that's something we as conference coaches have talked about, possibly meeting at a neutral southern location to get our games in and do what we can to play," Norris said.
Cleveland State softball player Genessa Riverakeahi grew up in Maui, Hawaii.
This was her second winter, ever.
"Everybody said last winter in Cleveland was so mild, but this winter was drastic, very drastic, certainly not the kind of change I imagined. This winter is last winter on steroids," Norris said.
For now the CSU softball team is practicing indoors, waiting to play their first home game outdoors.
The team can play non conference games indoors, but the NCAA does not allow conference games to be played outdoors.
The NCAA does not allow grass infields for softball.
For many colleges and high schools in Northeast Ohio, weather can be the toughest opponent for spring sports.
"The fact that we don't get to play in the spring, it's depressing," Riverakeahi said.