It’s been a tough softball season.
Sarah Kate’s team wasn’t very good, combining 8U with 6U wasn’t ideal, and despite being better at hitting the balls this season, Sarah Kate seemed to always hit them in the fielding “sweet spot,” giving her little chance to get a single, much less score. She had lots of RBIs early in the season, but those dropped off as the season wore on because the opposing teams got better at fielding. It didn’t help that for the last few games she was placed at the bottom of the batting order – often there was no one on base when she got up to bat, and therefore no one for her to advance and no one for the opposing team to focus on getting out other than her.
The last game of the season was scheduled for Tuesday night.
The morning started out badly and didn’t improve much as the day wore on. I’ll spare you my whining. In addition, our day was jam packed with activities. Tuesday afternoon is her regular therapy day, so I picked her up at 2:00 for a 3:00 PT appointment, finished just after 4:00, arrived home around 5:00, threw food at the kids, changed Nathan’s clothes, and rushed up to his preschool for the year-end program. It lasted until 6:30, just in time to arrive at 6:45 – 30 minutes before her 7:15 game. I told several of the moms that I was just ready for the day to end.
I brought my camera as I (almost) always do, but my heart wasn’t much into taking photos, and it didn’t help that I brought the wrong lens. Sarah Kate has played catcher almost exclusively this season, which she likes because it gives her a chance to keep moving, but the odds of her fielding a live ball in that position are small. I hoped that she’d get a chance to play in the outfield, because last Friday night she did and fielded two balls – one time narrowly missing getting a runner out at second (from the dugout it looked like she had her!) At first, I thought I was going to get my wish, but when she was halfway out onto the field, the coach called to her and she went back for her helmet.
Catcher again. Sigh.
I was proud of the way Sarah Kate was hustling. I’m not sure if she was fired up about her last game, energized from her therapy session, or wired from the mocha cookie crumble frappucino she got at Starbucks earlier that afternoon, but she was moving a lot quicker than is typical. So quickly, in fact, that I was afraid she was going to wear herself out and not have enough juice to finish the game.
The team they were playing has only lost twice all season – they’re good at batting and excellent at fielding – so I fully expected our team to not win. In fact, I’ll go ahead and tell you now that they lost – in fact, in the last inning, it wasn’t statistically possible for them to come back. The way things looked in the beginning, I wasn’t even sure Sarah Kate would get more than one at bat. When she did get up to bat (at the bottom of the order again), she hit a nice one and was only narrowly thrown out at first base.
No base hit; no RBI.
With just a few minutes left in regulation, a new inning started and Sarah Kate was on deck. I lined up behind the plate with my camera and fought back the tears. As much as I
sometimes often usually hate softball, I love that she loves it, and I love that she has been able to do something that I never dreamed was possible just a couple of years ago. It was hard to imagine that it was about to be over. I wanted so badly for her to at least make a base hit in what was likely going to be her last chance – ever. I had hoped at the beginning of the season that she’d have a few opportunities to score this year, but I’d long since given up on that dream.
Just a base hit. That’s all I wanted.
I saw her swing, heard the crack of the bat, and watched her run down the first base line. I didn’t look to see where the ball went; I didn’t want to know.
I just wanted my baby to reach that base and not hear the umpire call her out.
She made it.
I didn’t bother choking back the tears at that point. She had finished strong, like I always tell her to do, and I was proud.
Safe at first, she was poised and ready, struggling to keep a tiny part of her foot on the bag while waiting to see if she’d get a chance to advance. For a typical player, keeping a heel on the bag is easy; for Sarah Kate it’s a challenge to her already iffy balance. Finally, her time came. A base hit, and when the opposing team tried to throw the batter out at first, they overthrew it. Sarah Kate made it to second and it looked like she’d have time to get to third, too, but she tripped at second and the coach didn’t wave her on.
At least I don’t think he did. I wasn’t looking at him. In fact, I let an expletive fly (sorry, everybody).
Another batter to the plate. Another single.
The runner behind her was thrown out at second, but Sarah Kate advanced to third.
I began to believe that scoring was possible. I watched our team slugger trot up to the plate, and I hoped against hope that she’d knock it out of the park. She can smack a ball, but like lots of sluggers, she’s not consistent. This time, though, she smacked it.
Sarah Kate headed for home…and made it. She crossed the plate, turned to get a fist/glove bump from her pitching coach, and the umpire called, “TIME!”