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The Sinker This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It was a dark, clear night, perfect weather for a game of baseball. Dameon Washington stood on the grassy outfield, waiting for the ball. His team, the Springfield Sharks had been winless all season, but today it seemed like they were going to turn the tables. It was the bottom of the ninth inning, and two batters were out. There was only one batter left for the opposing team, the undefeated Centerville Cyclones. Up on the plate was the Cyclone’s Rick Shields. He was their most powerful hitter, and perfectly capable of blasting this pitch out of the park. When the pitch came to him, Daemon could hear the crack of the bat as Rick made contact with the ball. The ball flew high to left center field, heading toward Dameon. Dameon peddled back and held up his mitt. Easy catch Daemon, just do not screw up Dameon thought. If he caught this, the game would be over. The ball flew into his mitt, and sudden joy filled inside Dameon, but it overwhelmed him and he lost control of his mitt. The ball bounced to the ground with a plop.

There was only one difference between catching the winning ball and dropping the winning ball. Instead of being mobbed by happy teammates, he was mobbed by angry teammates.
“How could you drop that, Dameon??” one of his teammates asked.
Dameon did not answer. Tears filled his eyes and slid across his cheeks, but nobody seemed to care. He glanced at his dad, who was also the team’s coach. Mr. Washington did not look happy. It was going to be a long ride home.

The ride home was silent. Finally, Cynthia, Dameon’s five year old sister broke the silence.
“Dameon, do not feel down, you played well against the best team in the league” she exclaimed.
Dameon forced a smile. He knew his sister was trying to cheer him up but his error had made such a big impact on the team, he felt he would never be happy again. The next day, His dad had still not mentioned anything about the game, but Dameon did not mind. On the other hand, Steven, his older brother did talk to Dameon about his catch. “We need to practice on catching” Steven told Dameon.
“You need to redeem yourself, maybe hit a homerun” Steven continued.
Dameon was enthusiastic about this idea. He had never hit a homer before, and this seemed like the perfect time to hit one.

The next few days consisted of hard training by Dameon, and lots of teaching by Steven. Dameon was not very skilled with the bat, so he often got frustrated with himself and threw it on the ground, shattering it into wooden pieces. Dameon went through four bats before he could control himself. Soon, it was the day of the second to last game of the season. His teammates did not talk to him at all. They just gave him dirty looks. Dameon was beginning to walk to the outfield when Chris caught him.
“Hey, coach said that I am playing left field today” he told Dameon.
Dameon was in shock. His dad had benched Dameon, his own son in favor for someone else just because he had made a game costing error. Dameon reluctantly walked back to the dugout, and took a seat on the cold, metal bench. Dameon was not the only one shocked, his brother Steven was too.
“Dad, why did you bench Dameon?” he asked.
“I had to do what was best for the team” his dad said with a sigh.
Dameon was not sure if his dad was aware that he was sitting right next to him.

Despite of being benched, Dameon still got to bat as the designated hitter. He failed to cash in on his opportunities, striking out on both of his at-bats. Soon it was the bottom of the ninth inning, and Dameon was the last batter up for the Sharks. He was also the Sharks’ only hope to win. There was a runner on second and third. If Dameon hit a single, they would win. Dameon got off the bench and picked up his bat. Ok, this is my moment, its time to redeem myself he thought. As he walked up the plate, his dad stopped him.
“Dameon, I am putting in Sam as a pinch hitter for you” he said.
“What!?” Dameon replied. “I can do this, I know I can!” Dameon shouted.
“Dameon, think about what is best for the team, Sam is a more powerful hitter then you” his dad answered.
“Come on dad, Dameon has been practicing his batting all week” Steven exclaimed.
“What is going on??” the umpire shouted. “Dameon, trust me on this, let Sam take this” his dad said.
Dameon threw the bat on the grass, luckily it did not break. Sam hustled up the steps of the dugout, picked up the bat and stepped to the plate. Dameon stood right next to him, anticipating the hit by Sam so he could scurry to first base. Dameon’s dad turned out to be half right. Sam indeed hit the ball, but with too much air. The ball flew towards right field, and dropped way short of the fences. The right fielder caught it and the game was over. The sharks were still winless.

Unlike the last one, the ride home was noisy. Steven was arguing with his dad about his decision to substitute Dameon in the last inning.
“I had to do what was best for the team!” his dad said.
“You do not think Dameon could have hit a single to win it for us?” Steven countered.
Mr. Washington let out a sigh.
“Listen, there was a lot of pressure on me, and I thought Sam would be the better choice for that last hit” he said.
“But Dameon is your son” Steven exclaimed.
The argument ended at that.

Instead of practicing with Steven, Dameon chose to lie on his bed and watch TV the whole week. Without a doubt, Dameon was discouraged. His dad had pulled him from his outfield job and his chance to redeem himself. On the night before the Shark’s final game, there was a knock at Dameon’s door. It was his dad.
“Listen Dameon, I owe you an apology” he told him.
“I know I am an adult, but I still make mistakes” he continued.
He told Dameon he was sorry for benching him and underestimating him in the last inning. Then, he told Dameon he had his outfield job back.
“Now get some sleep” he told Dameon. “You have a game tomorrow.”

Dameon now stood on second base. It was the last inning of the last game of the season. Somehow, Dameon knew he had to get to third base in order for the Sharks to win. Travis stepped up to the plate. He was the shark’s only hope. The opposing pitcher threw the ball. Dameon took off. He ran like lightning and caught a glimpse of the pitcher about to throw the ball to the third baseman to get him out. Dameon slid hard into third base, sand flew everywhere. He looked at the umpire.
“Safe!” the umpire shouted.
Dameon smiled, stood up and dusted off his pants. He had just stolen third base. Again the pitcher threw the ball, and Travis connected with it. It was a smooth hit, good for a single. Dameon ran to home, and he knew they had won. His team mobbed him, this time with smiles on their faces. Finally, the Sharks had won a game.





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