Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Watch the Pitcher! Watch, Watch the Pitcher!

That's the chant you hear from the girls in the dugout whenever there's a pitching change. They use it to alert everyone that there's someone new on the mound and they need to check her out.

Ok, maybe they just do it because they like to chant/sing/dance/jump up on the fence. These girls may be hardcore tough softball girls, but they're still just 9- and 10-year-old little girls.

Last night was the very first game of the fall softball season. We're back with the great coach we had last fall and a lot of the same girls. We've got some new girls on the team and they're fitting in nicely. I was worried about last night's game. Most of our team just moved up into the 10U age bracket (including the coach). We were down to 8 players due to dropouts and a broken wrist. Thankfully, last Friday, we had 2 new girls join the team, so we came back up to 10. One has never played before, but she's really good and one came in to help from the travel team, so she's good and experienced. We're up to 4 good pitchers and a couple of back-ups, so things are shaping up to be a good season.

Yesterday was one of those days where the schedule is absolutely nutso. Dentist appointment, lunch plans, band practice, dance, and a softball game. L's dance runs until 5:30 on Tuesday and the game started at 6 waaaaaaay across town. Daddy took K over there, but it was just killing me to miss her first game. So after dance got out, L and I decided to risk it. As long as traffic wasn't too bad, we could still make most of the game.

Naturally, we hit every red light and the back-up on the interstate was at it's longest point, but we somehow managed to get through it all and we were only about 15 minutes late. Whew!!

It was a great game. Some good hits, some good defense, some of the mistakes you expect from young players at the beginning of the season. K was playing well with a couple of RBIs, a single, and 2 walks. She made some good stops and some good throws.

At the bottom of the 4th, we were ahead 11-3 and there was no way the other team was going to be able to catch-up with the 4-run limit rule. So the coach looks at K as the girls were headed out to the field and says, "You wanna pitch?"

K has been playing ball since she was 5. It's her 7th season. Last year, she mentioned that she'd like to pitch, but I couldn't teach her and the team didn't need another pitcher, so she gave it up. She figured she didn't really want that kind of pressure anyway.

Then came the All-Stars this summer where freak circumstances doomed the team to having *no* reliable pitchers. We had a few who could stumble through an inning, but it always seemed like they were away on vacation. So out of desperation, Daddy watched a few youtube videos and K started learning to pitch. She worked a few days, but she hated the heat and her desire fizzled. Until the tryouts for fall ball came and she decided that she might really actually like to try pitching again.

So we started working on pitching again. And discovered that K has a very good natural ability for fastpitch. She will send the ball straight down the middle almost every time and as long as she remembers to simply throw it hard, she will get a pretty good pitch. Last Friday, she asked the coach if she could pitch in a game and he told her sure as long as she showed him she could throw strikes. So they stayed late and worked on it. I guess she showed him, because he indeed let her pitch in a game.

In that one last inning, K got her first strike-out, a couple of walks, and allowed a few hits. It was awesome. Yes, they got the maximum 4 runs, but K was throwing the ball well. Well enough that the batters could hit it. She didn't panic, didn't get flustered or frustrated. She just pitched.

With 4 other good, experienced pitchers, I don't know how much more K will pitch this season. Last night was a perfect situation and I'm so glad the coach gave her the opportunity to get some game experience.

And I'm even more glad that I took a chance on traffic and got to see it!

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