My team was in Sault St. Marie for our second tournament of the year. We had been playing since eight in the morning, pushing through every game with extreme effort. This was a new team, so of course we didn’t have as much time together as other teams we were versing. Our last game of the day was about to start. I glanced over towards the other dugout, the girls bigger and stronger than us. While we weren’t as big, we could do it, we were fast and smart. The sun poured onto the field, awaiting the beginning of the game.
“Ok girls! This is it. The last game of the day. This decides whether we play or not tomorrow.”
Coach looked around us, everyone had their mitts, their face masks, and a determined look on their face. We were ready to win.
“Take the field! Maddy, one, Grace, two, Evie, shortstop, Graci, third…..”
Yes, the perfect infield. We were going to do this and play as hard as we could. I reached into a bucket and put my fingers around the bright yellow sphere. The laces were rough against my hand and black marks covered the ball. Running out to first base, I threw grounders and pop ups to my teammates to warm them all up. The throws were perfect, going right into my mitt that was reached out.
“Balls in, coming down!” Hailey, our catcher got into her stance as Ally pitched straight across the plate. Hailey bounced up, taking a small step and throwing the ball to second base. Smack, perfect. Everything was looking good, good meaning that we had a chance of winning. The first batter walked up to the plate, towering over Hailey. She looked Ally right in the eye, then got in her stance.
“No outs, plays at one!” I looked around the field. Make it or break it.
Ally wound up, sending a strike toward the batter. She swung, the ball cracking the bat, flying towards shortstop. Evie scooped the ball and looked at me as she threw the ball to me. I felt it hit my mitt just before the girl pounded across the rubber base.
“Out!” The parents and team yelled in excitement. This was the beginning of it, I thought.
Sweat slicked my hair back as I ran into the field once again. We were tied, 15-15. Whatever happened in this last inning would determine what the outcome of the game was. Coach yelled out positions, the same as the first inning. I hoped, I prayed, that we could hold them and get another inning to then beat them. I started to think, started to realize that you have to work hard for what you want because nothing goes down without a fight. Determination filled my body as I prepared to play as hard as I could. The ball was hit towards the outfield, and the batter got a single. It’s ok, only one base. We can still do it. The next batter, whacking a pop fly above our heads, second base catching it just as the lead runner slid into the base.
“Out!” The umpire struck his arm in the air.
Two more, two more. The third batter hit a grounder straight at me, surprising for such a good team. I got the ball in my glove and tagged first base, watching the runner to make sure she didn’t try to sneak to home. One more out was all we needed. The batter stood looking out at the field and got into her stance. Ally took a deep breath and threw, being just a little too on the inside. Then a strike, and another, and another ball. The count was 2 strikes and two balls, and the batter on third looked like she was about to leap towards home base. One strike that she doesn’t swing at, and we did it. But then the unfortunate happened: the bat made a cracking noise as the ball flew into the outfield, right over centerfields head. I couldn’t do anything but think she’ll get it, they’ll get the ball and get it into the pitcher in time. But that didn’t happen. Third base was running home and the girl who just hit was turning towards two. And that was it. We lost.
“Line it up ladies, games over.” The umpire took off his mask and stood and watched as we slowly walked towards the game, high fiving them and saying good game. We all walked back towards the dugouts, feeling disappointed.
“We almost had it, almost!” Evie sighed.
As I started to pack up my bag, Coach told us all to wait.
“Girls. I want you to all listen closely. That is the hardest I’ve ever seen you play, and that says a lot. I know we didn’t win, but they were bigger and stronger than us. And that’s ok, because you were all so determined to win. And I’m so proud of that.”
In my head, I agreed. I had worked so hard to make every play, every hit the best. And that’s what will make you successful in life. Working hard, and losing. It taught me that you have to fight and lose sometimes to win in the end. You can’t ever achieve something without a failure taking place. Ever since, all we’ve gotten is better and better. Softball showed me all of this, and taught me this lesson, and now all I will ever do is work for what I want.