Monday, November 2, 2009

K the Softball Legend

K plays softball. Have I mentioned that? She's on her 4th season, 4th team, 4th set of coaches, and 2nd association. We've had awesome fundamental coaches, excellent strategy coaches, and coaches that were so bad we didn't play in the end-of-season tournament because they didn't know about it.

We moved across town last year and K is playing in a different association that is part of a different league with different rules. In the spring, K had to get used to the girls doing most of the pitching and she handled the transition well. At the end of the season, K learned there was an all-star team and a travel team and her goal became to do whatever it takes to get invited to those teams.

So for the first time, we are playing fall softball. It's a slightly smaller group with our association fielding 3 8U teams instead of the 4 it had in the spring. The biggest change is that all the teams have taken it up a few notches. The girls pitch more consistently, field more accurately, and hit more regularly. I don't know if they've all developed that much more body control since the spring or if only the more serious players participate in the fall, but it's been exciting to see the level of play improve so much.

We've slogged our way through a wet autumn season with weeknights and weekends committed to softball games. When we've wanted to camp, we've had to suck it up and stay for another game. When my grandmother died, K missed several games while we were gone. She couldn't miss any more and be eligible for the tournament, so we had no choice but to be there every single game. Thankfully, she made it to the end of the regular season healthy and ready to play every time.

Our team had a fantastic record. We got a brand new coach who amazingly stuck right in there with the seasoned and dedicated guys who've been coaching this level for ages. Our record was exactly the same as the others. Our team is full of tall girls and every single one of them can hit and hit well. Our coach knows the game and how best to use each girl's strengths and we went into the tournament last week fully expecting to do well.

So far, we're 5 games into the double-elimination tournament and our team is still alive and kicking. We have lost one game, but we're in until we lose another. There are 4 teams left in the tournament - the 3 teams from our association and one team from a neighboring community. We have to win 4 more games to win the championship and we have an excellent chance to do just that. And K is one the reasons we have that chance.

K has become an excellent softball player. She's extremely patient at the plate - never swinging at the first pitch and shows absolutely no nervousness when she falls behind with 2 strikes. She can wait out a ball or foul off close pitches until she finds one she likes and sends it sailing into the outfield. Even with genetics making her a slow runner, she still manages to squeeze out a few doubles. When she's in the field, K normally plays 3rd with a stint or two in right field because she's one of the few players who will work to back up first base every time. She can make the throw from 3rd to 1st base accurately and she's strong enough to get it there in the air.

Most importantly, K is a player who does what she's asked without complaining. She listens and learns. She's focused when she's on the field, always watching and moving and reacting when the coaches yell instructions. She wants to improve and will work hard to accomplish what she needs to. Those are the qualities that make her an excellent player, a valuable asset to her team, and those are the qualities that will serve her well in every area of life.

After all, isn't that why we have our kids play sports?

1 comment:

jinksto said...

Just a quick note to say that I enjoyed the story. Thanks for sharing.