Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A softball triple comes to those who run fast.

Tonight I played with my church softball team. It's a coed fast-pitch league, and it's serious competition. We have paid umpires, we steal bases, we bunt, and we keep statistics for end-of-season MVP awards. We play twice a week and I usually sit on the bench for the first half of each 7-inning game. Like all other sports, my softball skills are not up to par, but I have fun. My team has grown to love and respect me, and they don't fuss much at all when I make an error.

I did fairly well tonight. I played 3 innings out in right field. I didn't get any hits my way, but I did grab a loose ball after the first-baseman missed a throw. Of course, in the heat of the moment I promptly threw it to home plate. It would have been a brilliant play except that no base runner was running home at the time, and I ignored the runner running to second base.

I got up to bat twice. The first time I walked. This was a gift. I was fully expecting a difficult pitch following full count (3 balls and 2 strikes), but the pitcher messed up and threw an obvious ball. Whew! Once on first base, I stole second. I ran to third base after a bouncing ball hit got through the infield. Later, I headed home, scoring a run. The season is halfway through, and this is only the second time I've made it home! That's just the way it is; it doesn't upset me. But I certainly do get nervous whenever I'm playing.

Practice at a batting cage
My second time at bat I hit a line-drive style ball through the infield into the outfield. I was lucky that it was between the left and center fielders, and they missed it. This allowed me to get to second base and then I kept on going because they fumbled the ball somehow. Halfway to third base I heard my teammates tell me to head back to second, but it was too late to go back. So I just ran harder and got to third without any trouble. Some days I realize that I am a fast runner. My teammates know it, too. "Don't run me down," said TZ, a teammate whom I look to for advice. He's our team's shortstop and, well, my hero on the team. Do grown men have heroes like that? I do. TZ is the definition of cool.

I did not make it to home plate after getting my triple (which won't be scored as a triple in the scorebook because of the error(s) the fielders made). The next batter bunted the ball. The pitcher retrieved it and he had to decide whether to throw it to first base or to try and get me out. I strayed too far from third base, and then realized he had decided to pick me off. I stopped running toward home and tried to get back to third base. I slid into third and avoided the tag by a seemingly lengthy amount of time. Despite that, the ump called me out and I walked back to the dugout. I knew the ump's call was wrong; my swelling confidence intact. My teammates all agreed that it was a bad call by the umpire. But the game goes on. After all, I got a triple. I was a fast runner. I was appropriately aggressive at third base. I made the right decision to slide back into third. I earned my pay.

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