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First Pitch This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   My whole life I have wanted to pitch for a major league team. To acheive this, Iknow I must first work my way up the ladder, starting in high school.

Tobe the best I have to beat the best. So, as soon as I became a freshman, I signedup for the off-season baseball class. From the first day, I pushed myself tobecome the best and meet the standards of varsity baseball. I caught the eye ofseniors and juniors who were on varsity. They asked me to play with them in atournament so they could see how well I could play at their level.

Icouldn't wait; I was going to show them what I was made of. It took forever forthat week to end but it finally did. The drive on Saturday with my friends wentfaster than expected, and before I knew it, we had arrived.

I'll neverforget how the field looked. It was the biggest and best field I had ever steppedon. The bleachers stood 50 feet high and stretched from first base around thebackstop to third base. They must have been able to hold more than 500 fans. Thedugouts were freshly painted, lined with Astroturf and had brand-new benches. Theoutfield wall was all wood, standing more than ten feet high. The grass was abrilliant dark green with lines striping the field like at Candlestick Park. Tofinish the picture, the dirt around the infield and mound was the color of redclay. This was going to be my first time playing on a real field, and I couldn'twait.

For our first game, the coach didn't want me to start before theguys who had already been playing, so I waited. In the fifth inning he let meplay in the outfield at the least critical position. The coach knew that I had adecent arm. The ball wasn't hit to me during that game but I did have a chance tobat and hit a line drive over the second baseman's head.

My new team wasgood. We won our first two games and headed back with our heads held high. Sundaywe were going to play two more games. The first seemed like it would be ablow-off since our two wins had already assured us a place in the championshipgame. That Sunday I woke up excited, thinking I might be able to pitch that firstgame.

I was confident that I would put on a good show. My parents werecoming, and all I could think about was being the winning pitcher. But once I setfoot on the field, I had a bad feeling. I started warming up, and as soon as Imade that first toss, I knew why. My arm was sore and tired from throwing a lotin the outfield the day before, and I had not put ice on it. I thought I couldshake the soreness by warming up and taking time in the bullpen. To make mattersworse, I was facing the best hitting team in the tournament. They were tied withus with a 2-0 record and also had a secure spot in the championship.

Afterwarming up, my arm was still hurting, but I thought I would be all right. I hadto be all right. This was my big chance. There was no telling when the nextopportunity might come. Before the game, my coach said that he had faith in meand if I hit my spots and made good pitches, I would be okay. And this was mychance to make my father proud. I told him that I would do my best.

OnceI got on the mound, it was clear that I was nervous. The first two pitches duringmy warm-up weren't even close to the plate, and my arm was now hurting more thanever. But I stood firm.

I had a terrible start. I walked the first batteron five pitches and then gave up a hit. My teammates were still behind me, and Icould hear them encouraging me while I waited for the third batter. I pushed thepain away and threw a fastball on the inside of the plate that made the batterpop up to the shortstop. I had gotten a man out, and some confidence came back.The fourth batter came to the plate and soon the count was two balls and twostrikes. Unfortunately, on the next pitch, he got a line drive to the outfield.The next batter got a hit. They had scored twice and now had a runner on second.I knew it was over for me, and saw my coach coming to the mound. He told me ithad been a good try and maybe I would have better luck next time. The walk backto the bench was one of the longest I had ever endured. I thought I had leteveryone down and that they were all disappointed in me, especially myfather.

The game seemed very long and we lost 8-1. I felt responsible. Idreaded confronting my father. When I found him I realized I had worried fornothing. He said he was still proud of me for facing the other team and knew Iwould have better days on the mound.

I'll never forget that day. Everytime I go to the mound to pitch I think of it and I will never take another teamlightly. I'll also never make the mistake of trying to pitch when I'm not in topshape, and take the chance of costing our team the game. That day taught me two valuable lessons for baseball, and for life.


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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