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“Are you ready Pitch?” The ump yelled.
“Of course I am,” I hollered back.
“Alright, let’s have a batter!”
I didn’t know until now that those words started my last game of softball ever.
The batter walked up, got set, and stared me down. Waiting for the ball to be released from my hand. I was shaking, butterflies jumping in my stomach, like always. I wound up, released, and the ball flew through the air.
“Strike,” called the ump. I started to smile. I loved hearing the ump yell that. My team started shouting from behind, “nice job Erin, keep it up!”
I looked at my catcher, “just two more” she mouthed through her face mask. Then made the face she always made when she knew I was nervous. I wound up, pitched again and there was number two. Just one more and the first girl was back in the dugout. Again, for the third time I wound up, “ting” was the sound of the ball hitting the bat.
“Foul ball,” called the ump. My coach, who was my dad, saw the frustration on my face.
“It is alright, calm down.” He shouted from the dugout, “and do what you gotta do to get this girl out.” My dad knew exactly what to say to get me focused. My fourth pitch was that third strike I needed to get that girl out, and start the beginning of my best pitching game ever.
My dad had me pitch the first four innings because I was doing so well. By the end of that inning we were mercying them, and I was done pitching forever.
As I stood there now in my other position, shortstop, I watched our second pitcher. It was killing me not being able to stand on the mound. It was only the fifth inning and I was already missing the excitement and tension of pitching.
Now, years later after my last game it hits me. People always say you never know what you have until it is gone. Looking back years later I understand this. During that game I wanted to pitch because I was doing well. Now I want to pitch because I realize I am done forever. No more faces from my catcher, encouraging sayings from my team or coach. No more wind ups, releases or the sound of the ump yelling strike. I won’t ever get to stand on the mound again or have the seams of the ball along my fingers during the intensity of a game. I miss all of this. I do not know what I would have done without my years of summer softball. If I would not have done softball I would not be the same girl I am today. Summer softball helped shape me into who I am today. That is why people say, “even the little things in life make a big difference.”