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More than a sport

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It's only 12:00 noon, not even close to opening-pitch time. I am not in my uniform, I am not on the field; I am at school, in my favorite class, trying to concentrate on my work. Still, the plays perform themselves in my head. Every out I've made, every reaction to a pitch. Every glance from my best friend, the catcher, as our pitcher tosses in another strike.
My best friend storms into my class. She knows my teacher, and the three of us laugh at inside jokes as the rest of the class works. She mentions our game tonight, and I smile. Still, the nervous bubbles have already started popping in my stomach. My body is preparing to be stretched, to work, to dive for balls hit shallow and run for good base hits.
My friend tells me that she'll see me at the game, and I laugh my reply. Inside, my heart is fluttering. Before I leave the class, my teacher pulls me aside and wishes me a warm 'good luck'. I thank him graciously. I know I'm going to need it.
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My coach tells me I'm going to be promoted to second base this game. As an outfielder, this is amazing. My best friend, our catcher, smiles when she sees me take second, and calls a quick 'time' to give me a hug and say 'good luck'. And I am lucky. I have no clue what to do at second, but luckily, I have no action in the first three innings. Our short-stops covers second on a steal while I stand and pretend to do something professional. Really, I am shaking in my shoes.
It wasn't a hard game we were playing. It was an easy team, a team with a record worse than the Miami Dolphins. Still, when our coach puts in our worst pitcher, I know we are in trouble.
By some type of miracle, I make two good plays in one inning; I luck out with soft ground balls by bad batters. Another girl, a high schoo stand-out who plays our community leage for batting practice, knocks a solid base hit right passed me. I pretend I'm not shaken. Big lie.
Bottom of the final inning; my best friend pulls me aside in the dug-out to say that there is no pressure. But even after getting a few good RBI's in the previous innings, and making some solid plays to first base, I'm as nervous as anything. She pats me on the back as I quietly review every 'good luck' that was wished to me that day, and pray that they come true.
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I'm extremely lucky. Our coach puts in our best pitcher, and we get three easy outs. Game over. Winner: us! My best friend jumps on my back and I high-five my teammates. I can't wait to go to class and gloat about how my friend and I saved the game. Little lie, but at least I did not make any game-threatening errors.
With us softball-girls, getting out on that field is more than going out to play a friendly game. It is lions v.s. tigers, dog-eat-dog where victory is more important than fun. We play in a take-one-for-the-team type of league. Which makes it even more fun to win.
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It is 12:00 noon, and I eagerly recall every detail of the game to my teacher. My best friend stands beside me and adds her share of input. We are so happy that morning. We are the victors of a rare race. We are lucky.



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