Aside from the unusually high amount of orange, Syracuse's softball field looks pretty ordinary. And at ground level, it is. The dirt is brown, the grass is green, and the baselines get a new coat of white chalk before every game. The air above the field, however, is a bit of a marvel.
29.6 percent of home runs hit at Syracuse this season have gone over the right field fence, which might not be unusual if Syracuse was dominated by left-handed sluggers. But only one of the Orange's top five home run hitters is left-handed, and right-handers have hit 77 percent of SU's homers. So how does the ball carry so well to right? The answer is in the skies.
The Daily Orange's Matthew Gutierrez went to Dr. Jon Nese, a meteorology expert at Penn State, to see why so many balls have carried over the right field fence. Nese had not one, but three reasons for the phenomenon (show off).
1. The dominant wind in Syracuse comes from the west, which means the wind generally blows out to right field which is in the east.
2. Tennity Ice Pavilion (on the first base side of the field) blocks winds coming from the south, which keeps balls from carrying to left field the way they do to right.
3. The trees along the outfield help block wind blowing in, and the parking lot beyond left field draws balls out as well.
There's a lot of science behind all of this that I don't really understand, but here's what you really need to know. Players generally pull home runs about 60 percent of the time. The rest go to center, and only a few go to the opposite field. If 77 percent of Syracuse home runs come from right-handers, then almost 30 percent of long balls going over the right field fence is a much big number than it looks.
So when Syracuse hits a walk-off home run over the right field fence, you can thank the hockey teams, the landscapers, and good ol' Mother Nature for making it happen.