The Tryout This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     On a hot Sunday in August there were six coaches, 90 of the best players in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, one field, and one chance to make the prospects team for this area. That is all you have in a place like this, one chance. Players get one chance at four ground balls and four throws to first to show that you have the skill and technique. Only one chance to prove yourself with a radar gun hunting you like an eagle scanning for food over a river. Every player wants a spot and hopes you screw up so he has a better chance. Do well, and you’ll be a member of a team that has sent every one of its players to college on a baseball scholarship. This was my one chance to be more than an unknown name in the college and pro scouts’ notebooks.

The players were given numbers, mine was 210 and 209 was taking his turn on the infield. His fourth throw went flying into the first base seats and suddenly it was my turn. I took my spot at shortstop and shouted “210” so the coaches would go to my number in their wads of papers. Without wasting any time the coach hit the first ball hard to me. I took one step to set my footwork, fielded it cleanly and threw a strike to first. The second ball was hit up the middle to my left. I took three hard steps, fielded it on the run and let my momentum carry me to throw another strike to first that made a cracking sound in the first baseman’s glove. I came to a stop and started to jog back to my original spot at short. I remember telling myself, So far, so good and Go hard on every play.

The third ball was hit in the hole to my right. On a dead sprint I knocked the ball to my feet with my glove and ran by it, trying to stop myself. I grabbed the ball and threw it to first, wondering what the coaches thought of that last ball. As I threw it I heard a coach say, “Go again,” so I ran back to my position and waited for the next ball. He hit it to the same spot but harder. I took two hard steps and the ball seemed to be picking up speed so I took another and laid out, keeping my eye on the ball until it was in my glove. Then I slid two more feet, rushed to get my legs under me and made a strong throw that hit the grass, picked up speed and went right to the first baseman on a one hop. Once again I jogged back to my position, this time thinking of that final ball.

I got set and the coach hit it at me again, except this time he hit it soft. I charged it with three steps, counting the bounces to make sure I timed it right. On the fourth step I gloved the ball on a big bounce and exchanged it to my throwing hand. I hadn’t gotten a good grip on the ball and put my hand back in to re-grip. This time I pulled my arm back and flung it hard to first, trying to make up for lost time, from the edge of the infield grass right to the first baseman’s glove again making a cracking sound.

As I ran back, tired, to join the others, I was met with “Nice play” and “Great job.” I remember hoping the coaches had the same opinion, but in my mind I had done well, at least for this part of the tryout.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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