I know this because tonight was the first softball game of the season. Ahhhh, softball. To be able to pretend to be young again. Except for the prayers for no injuries before the game.
Yep, I’m in a church league. The various churches around my town play a non-competitive league where each church is a different team. We play every Tuesday for 8 weeks at the local park district, which means lights and real fields – a bonus, trust me. The home team provides the ump (and I’m proud to say that my husband is the team’s preferred ump), and we all do it in fun.
Except for one team – the Lutherans. I don’t think it’s a Lutheran thing; it’s just their coach. They’re the only team in the league where the coach isn’t a member of the team. He doesn’t even have a wife who plays on the team. But man, is he into it! For years, they were the best team in the league, or so I’ve been told. Last year was my first year in the league, and we beat their pants off. It wasn’t always pretty, as the coach gets a bit intense, but we beat them handily last year. And I’m really just being vain if I pretend that my playing last year had anything to do with beating them.
Even though I’m shopping for churches, I’m still playing with the Catholic church this year. In fact, I may have to beg to play with them again next year, as the Episcopalians are the one church I know if in town without a team. I don’t know that I’m quite up to starting a team from scratch, nor do I know that there’d be enough interest. But shhhh the team doesn’t know that I’m shopping for a new church. Yet.
So the team I play on apparently requested to play the Lutherans in the first game of the year. Amazingly, we had 16 women show up – for anyone who doesn’t play softball, this never happens. Our two coaches from last year weren’t able to make it, as they were both coaching their daughters’ teams, but that’s ok when you have so many others make it.
Since we didn’t have strong coaches on hand, the Lutherans took the field for infield practice before the game, even though we were home team and technically, it was ours to practice. But we’re Christian and don’t make an issue of it.
The game is a good one, as it usually is between us. First inning was 1-0 them. Second inning, we broke out for 5 runs. Third inning, we gave back three. Fourth inning, we gave back another two. And there it stayed at 6-5 for the next two innings. Unfortunately, the only reason that they had the lead was that our third baseman and shortstop both had bad innings.
My first two at bats were nothing to right home about. I tried the “Judy” bat my first at bat, since everyone on the team raves about it. I found out the hard way that it’s too short for me. And sadly, I vaguely remember learning that the hard way last year, too. The next at bat, the stud left fielder caught my beautifully hit ball. And the right fielder caught an even better hit ball the next time up – right fielders aren’t supposed to be able to catch in non-competitive softball leagues! My next at bat, I finally got it down and had a sweet single up the middle.
By the time we ended the sixth inning, it was just after 8:30. Our games are supposed to start at 7 on the dot (ours didn’t) and end at 8:30 so that the next team can play (no team waiting for the field). We also had an injury timeout, as one woman slid into third and jammed her ankle badly, and that took a good 10 to 15 minutes to get her stabilized and off the field. See, I told you we prayed for no injuries. Apparently we didn’t pray hard enough tonight!
Given the situation, we asked if they wanted to play the last inning. Their coach didn’t care one way or the other, and the team finally agreed to play. Rally caps went on for my team. They may only be visors, but you can turn those things upside down and backwards just as well as a regular ballcap!
One went down easy – short to first. The second batter reached on an error. The third batter fielders choiced the second batter at two. The fourth batter, also short to first. Phew!
And somehow, we started hitting. We got runners on. Eventually we reached two out, but we’d scored one run and tied the game. And yep, you guessed it, it was my turn to bat again. Gotta love that pressure. Of course, I didn’t realize that we’d already scored a run, as I’d been checking on our injured player when I realized I was on deck. It’s all good. I hit a single and managed to score another run, which ended the game. Yay!
And the first words out of the coach’s mouth? “Really, we won. This inning doesn’t count. Say what you want, but we won.” Ummm, dude, noncompetitive league and you agreed to play the last inning. Oh and we don’t count wins and losses.
When I got home and told my husband about the game, I asked if he could guess what team we played given their reaction at the end. Yeah… he sorta nailed it on the first try. Then again, the teams in our league don’t hold a candle to the unsportsmanlike activities I regularly witness at his games. Silver lining!