Oregon's penchant for rain isn't great for softball, hasn't stopped recruits from flocking to OSU

Collegiate softball in Oregon is a vastly different environment from places with more sun, both literally and figuratively.

Without the benefit of consistent fair weather, which colleges in Texas or California are blessed with, the Beavers played every nonconference game out of Oregon this year.

Despite greener -- and drier -- pastures in other areas, Oregon State has been able to bring in softball recruits to Corvallis.

These recruits aren't just a mix of players who weren't good enough for other schools, either -- the Beavers boast the third-ranked recruiting class coming in next year.

For most players, the weather was a factor, but OSU was enough of a draw anyway.

"(The weather) was one aspect I had to put aside because everything else fit perfectly," said junior second baseman Ya Garcia. "Ask anyone who knew me freshman year, it was hard to take in the rain."

Garcia has become used to the weather despite her upbringing in California, one of nine such players on the OSU roster.

According to head coach Laura Berg, softball recruits often will come to Corvallis even if they're used to warmer weather because of the Beavers' atmosphere.

"It's a great place to play, whether it rains a lot or not," Berg said. "This is a college town, everybody loves the black and orange. Everyone loves to be a part of Beaver Nation, and you're a rockstar here."

Even for players originally from Oregon, like Salem-native Hannah Bouska, playing collegiate softball in the Pacific Northwest was not a dealbreaker.

"My dad gets to come to my games, so I can deal with the rain," the senior first baseman said. "Oregon State is Corvallis -- it's very much family oriented. ... If you don't want to come here, you're losing out."

Of course, Bouska still enjoys being able to spend a considerable part of the first month of the season playing in California, Arizona and Texas.

"It's my favorite," she said. "I try not to wear sunscreen as often."

Ironically, the Beavers still had four games postponed due to inclement weather at the Long Beach State Invite.

If not for those missed contests, OSU would currently have 26 games logged -- all away from Corvallis.

OSU will finally get to play at home Friday, when they will start a three-game series with No. 5 Arizona State. But the Beavers still have 14 more road games on the slate, including a nonconference pair with UNLV.

Teams like ASU get to host their own tournaments -- such as the ASU Classic in February, which OSU attended -- and playing more games before the Pac-12 season starts.

The Sun Devils have played more games at home (24) than the 22 total games for OSU, though Berg feels it may not be as advantageous as it appears.

"I think it's a little disadvantage for them," she said. "They don't ever really experience the things that can happen on the road. You go somewhere and you can get 'homered' by an umpire, the elements might be bad or a flight might be delayed. They've never really been tested."

A test is exactly what the Beavers offered to ASU two years ago when the conference schedule began for both teams in Corvallis, just like it will Friday.

Both Garcia and Berg started their OSU careers two seasons ago and that series held the first Pac-12 games for each.

Playing through a damp forecast and with the third game rained out, the Beavers split a pair of games with the Sun Devils.

Berg hopes a similar atmosphere returns this weekend in the Corvallis rematch.

"I hope it's cold and a little rainy -- they don't handle it very well," Berg said. "I would like for it to be a little dreary here."

The Beavers have practiced indoors at the Merritt Truax Indoor Center for most of the year, but Tuesday marked the first time practice was held outside in the Softball Complex since the fall.

Regardless of the weather, the Pac-12 opener will be a tough matchup.

"The first Pac-12 game is always really nerve-wracking," Bouska said. "I'm just excited to get it going. ASU is one of my favorite teams to play ... they're a fun, scrappy team just like we are."

Josh Worden, sports reporter

On Twitter @WordenJosh


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