Striding to First

By , Cincinnati, OH
The crack of the bat brings chills to my ears. As I remember those cold bleachers that I sit on now, watching my dad and his teammate/co-workers at their softball game every Thursday, conveys memories of cheering my dad on, departing to the crowded recreational area, receiving a frosty mixed icee, and dosing off on the way home in my warm, and cozy car seat. But now, I just go to observe, and because I am extremely interested in the competition between the two teams. Even though it is only slow-pitch; I would be playing fast-pitch softball.

After a few days in a Girl Scouts gathering, I overheard my friend Lindsey asking, “Do we have to leave early for our game because I can call my dad to come get us?” And that’s when I knew I wanted to play the game that I knew little of. I arrived home and advised my family during dinner and my sister thought it was a good idea and wanted to do it too (of course). It was too late to sign up, so my dad decided that we should sign up next year with Lindsey and practice now. My dad went crazy because we were turning out like him, and on one weekend he bought us two leather gloves, one blue and black bat with our initials (because they are the same) to share, wiffle balls to practice with, and two helmets we would have for a very long time. As a result, on the weekends I would come outside and catch a 10 inch softball and whack wiffle balls out into our neighborhood and on top of my neighbors moving car, we of course apologetically said sorry. Everyday I practiced I became better and better, but I never knew if I was good enough therefore I kept pushing and pushing myself.

A while later on a Saturday in March I had my first practice with my team and I had no idea what to wear, consequently, I had some loose black and white athletic shorts and a small blue t-shirt with my short, blonde hair in a high ponytail and was ready. When we arrived to the PYO fields, and stepped on to the freshly cut green grass and raked brown dirt, I was nervous with first day of school jitters but very excited. “I’m gonna be a better player than you,” Jacquelyn bragged. We finished our way to the field we were practicing on and saw everybody else in green jerseys that said “the green machines” and blue jerseys “the blue angels” and names and numbers on the back. We started pairing up and throwing, as a result I paired up with my sister, Jacquelyn and hurled the yellow ball with red stitching over her head a little bit, but mostly to her. Our last practice before our first game my coach gave us our jerseys and our name was, “The Blue Angels” my number was 12 and with the nickname Jb.

On the day of our first game trying to find my jersey, socks, and pants was like finding needles in a haystack. We were playing the Purple People Eaters and we were all nervous but that was the first game jitters. When I touched that dirt, I knew we were going to win. As I ran to short stop, we seized the first person out with an easy ground ball to first. As they earned a run, I tried to think pleasant thoughts. Seven to five, top of the fifth with two outs, and they had a person on third and second. We had to hold them until we were up therefore we could earn our chance to win. It was coach pitch so if the player couldn’t hit it then they would haul the tee out, and that’s what they did for number six. She hit a pop fly to me and my coach later told me I caught it with my eyes closed and popping a bubble. The next game was just like that we acquired three up, three down some innings and won all of the games until the tournament. It was my family’s first tournament and it was consequently hot that when we positioned black marks of face paint on our cheeks and it was dissolving off. Our first game we won with flying colors, but later that day during our second game we were losing by a lot and as I got up to bat with my big, strong swing, it started to pour a good cold rain, and my dad’s cell phone rang, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, which was perfect and all of the parents just laughed. After four more games we were declared the undefeated division champions!

As the thunder boomed, the whistle came and we all climbed out of the pool at Windwood for our end of the season party. We lugged our towels around us to get warm while all of our parents were talking, Coach Rob was talking to all of us about the season and every girl approached coach to get a t-shirt that said, “2004 Division Champs” and pictures of us taken during the season. When it was my turn he told everyone how in one game I was up to bat with one strike and two balls, I saw another ball go past me, the umpire told me to walk to first. My sister hit the ball to left field and I rounded third and went home, I went down for a slide and when the dust when away…





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