“Infield move up! Outfield to the dirt!” The opposing team’s coach shouts to his players as I step up to bat. I know I shouldn’t let it bother me, but it does. Softball is a passion and it hurts to see everyone’s reaction to me while I do what I do. Everyone is hesitant. Hesitant to let me play, to let me go up to bat, or to just let me be myself. Being only 5’ isn’t fun. Everyone towering over you and your neck hurting from holding it up to see other people’s faces. When I play softball, it’s no different.
This is the moment of my dreams, the one I know will change how I am viewed. I have been practicing all winter with a private coach and at home. They tell me that my strike zone is so small that barely anyone will be able to get it when I take my batting stance. All I have to do is swing. My muscles take over from there. I practice on the batting machine and as the balls fly, so does my bat. I swing with all of my weight and the ball soars. It lands in the deep centerfield. Perfect. Just perfect.
But now, standing at bat, I realize just how hard it might be to battle my nerves. I am in a constant fight with myself, how will I combat the ball coming at my face at 55 mph? I don’t know and it’s too late.
“Strike one!” the ump calls loud enough to hear from California. The pitcher, I forgot. Of course now, when it matters most, I am going to get a pitcher that can hit my strike zone with a flaming neon yellow blob. Focus, Emily. Focus.
The next ball comes. “Strike two!” No. Not now. Not now. I’m freezing up, muscles seizing, I don’t know what to do. I drown out the crowd and turn my attention to the pitcher. We lock eyes for a moment, and I break it by getting my stance lined up. Crouch, load, push, lock. I am ready.
She does her windup, and for a moment I see how beautiful it really is. The intricate movements all to place the ball where she wants it. The ball comes out of her hand and wizzes, spinning in a perfect spiral, directly to me. The yellow sphere, the red stitching in the shape of a “C”. All comes together to form the thing I so admiringly love. Now it’s my turn to be beautiful.
I release my stance. My arms precede my body but stay close to obtain the most power. My hips turn and I connect with the middle of the ball and it flies to the centerfield. It goes past the centerfielder and I sprint to first base, then second. As I round second I see that the ball is close. I have just enough time to make it to third base. I pump my arms even harder and it is a race between my feet and the ball to the base. I run and slide onto my back just as the baseman catches the ball. The base skids away when I hit it and everyone freezes. Her glove is on me and I can only hope that the ump sees I got here first. The ump takes a minute and calls a timeout for me to fix the base.
“She’s safe!” the ump exclaims having made his final selection. The words only register after I hear my name being called out.
My team is cheering for me. The girl that used to be a burden, who was picked last, has finally proven herself. I have become the team’s secret weapon. From that point on, no matter whatever team we faced, they always called the infield closer and the outfield to the dirt. Oh did they regret that when the ball sails over their heads with them to chase it.
I, the littlest on the team, scored runs and brought my team to victory. Everyone at school treated me differently. They were nice to be and actually acknowledged that I was there. People started conversations and congratulated me on my game. It really goes to show that size doesn’t matter. Great things really do come fun sized, and you might just become your team’s secret weapon.