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He stepped in the box, dug his cleats into the dirt, and tapped the corners of the plate with his bat. He glanced at the scoreboard, seeing his team losing by one with one out to go. He then looked to the pitcher and back up at the scoreboard again. His mind racing, the crowd yelling, his teammates cheering.
“Come on Ben! One hit is all we need!” hollered Nick from the dugout.
He knew he was on the verge of being the hero, but also being the complete failure.
With his thoughts running so wild in his head he barely noticed the pitcher started his wind up. He kicked his leg and threw the ball. It was four-seam fastball right down the middle. He squeezed his bat and gritted his teeth. He knew he was gonna hit this pitch. He took such a huge swing he nearly fell down.
“Strike One!” called the umpire. Ben, after regaining his balance, looked and saw the ball in the catcher’s mitt. He couldn’t believe he missed that ball.
The next pitch came and it was a called strike on the outside corner. The home fans cried out and booed the umpire while the others cheered in excitement. Ben really knew he had to work now.
The pitcher shuffled the ball in his hand waiting to get the sign, grinning, feeling confident despite the runners on second third. He looks in and shakes off the first two signs, finally nodding at the third. He gripped the ball and came set. Checking the runners and then delivering the pitch.
Ben saw it out of his hand and picked up the spin right away. Curveball. The pitcher made the one mistake you never want to do on the mound. He hung the curve and Ben knew it. He watched it in and sat back, waiting to crush it over the fence in walk-off fashion. He swung, and almost simultaneous with the ring of the ball off his bat the crowd roared. The ball sailed back, back, back… right into the mitt of the left fielder. He stood there, just after rounding first in awe. He had never felt the feeling he was feeling right now.
The other team cheered and rallied around the pitcher like he was their hero. Ben, slowly walking off the field didn’t know what to do. His coach was not good with his players and never told Ben it was okay and to keep his head up. Actually, instead he told Ben he didn’t know how anyone could have had such a terrible at bat.
Coached screamed in his face, “How do you miss a fastball right down the middle and then you can’t get a hit off a hung curveball?”
This stuck with Ben for a long time. It never left the back of his head and anytime he would face adversity in the game of baseball no memory was more vivid in his head than this one from his Little League World Series championship game.
He stuck with baseball because even though he had a bad experience as a young child he still loved the game. It was so relaxing for him to go out and play and relieve his stress from everything else in his life. It was his own escape, to go out and play such a beautiful game. As he got older and continued to play he grew closer to the game. Wanting to someday play in college and eventually go pro.
Up until the time when Ben started getting recruited by colleges he started forgetting about his experience from his younger years but it still hung with him. All the way up through high school but there was never a time where it came back to him. It wasn’t until his senior year, when he was faced with one of the biggest moments of his life.
By this time Ben was being looked at by many division 1 colleges and everyone was talking about him. His team played that night for the conference championship and he was told by 4 of his top colleges that they would be there. He was so excited and so nervous at the same time.
The game had started and Ben was having a great game in front of the scouts. He a hit and some runs and made a few nice plays at shortstop. He was feeling good. Everything was going to plan until they found themselves down one in the last inning.Again, it had come down the last out of the game, everything was shaping out the exact same way his Little League game was. He was on deck when his teammate drove a ball into the gap with a runner on first for a double, moving the running on first to third.
His head was spinning, his heart was pumping, so many thoughts were in his head at once. The game, the coaches, the memory, his team. He could barely walk up to the plate he was so nervous. Just like he had thousands of times though, he stepped in the box. He dug his cleat into the dirt. He tapped the corners of the plate with his bat and looked to the scoreboard.
At this point, he knew what pitch was coming. Four-seam fastball. Right down the middle. Again, he knew what was on the line, only this time, it was much bigger. A college scholarship to play at any of 4 division one colleges and the conference championship for his school. He took a deep breath and controlled his thoughts as much as possible though it didn’t really work at all.
He was ready for the pitch, and the pitcher was ready too. He started his wind-up and kicked his leg, threw the ball and sure enough it was a four-seam fastball, right down the middle. Only this time, he didn’t miss...