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Do I Have To Hit? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Sweat oozes from every pore as I try to staykneeling. The face mask smells of musty leather, and the chest pad weighsheavily on my neck and shoulders. I look across the field, the sunstinging my eyes, and see my team throwing balls back and forth. I lookat the pitcher directly in front of me. He winds up ... I catch the ballperfectly in the pocket of my white catcher's mitt. I smile. Today isgoing to be a great game, I think.

I get a quick feeling ofnervousness as the first batter steps up to the plate. He digs hiscleats into the dry earth, stirring dust. I can taste the grit, whichmakes me even more determined to get this guy out. As the first ball isthrown, I am pulled into my own world; my only mission is to catch thisred-stitched piece of white leather.

"Stee-rike three,"the umpire yells. Defeated, the boy hangs his head and walks to thedugout. Two more batters meet their demise. My teammates run in,slapping high-fives and yelling. I jog to our dugout and remove myequipment. I feel naked.

My confident teammates go proudly to theplate, some smacking base hits and some striking out. It's my turn.Knees shaking, I meekly walk to the plate. Scared to death of the ballwithout my protective equipment, I practically step out of the batter'sbox at every pitch. I swing blindly and am quickly struck out. A wave ofdepression and worthlessness sweeps over me as fans and teammatessnicker at my pitiful performance.

It's a close game; we are tiedat the top of the ninth and this will be my last at-bat. I haven't had abase hit yet. I look up at my coach's bearded face and ask, "Do Ihave to hit?" "Yes," he replies. I take my time and pickmy weapon carefully. I choose a lightweight black TPX aluminum alloybat. Doing what the coach told me, I pretend to be a good batter. I holdmy head high and jog to the batter's box, determined to get ahit.

I watch the pitcher wind up and throw the ball.Everything happens in slow motion. I bring the aluminum rod completelyaround my body. The sound of the ball striking the bat shocks me, but Iquickly recover, set the bat down and run as fast as my short legs letme. The base coach screams, "Go, Go!" I go, and cross homebase panting. I hear my teammates screaming my name and telling me I hita home run. I want to cry but, of course, I can't in front of the guys.




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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