February 9

Catching

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my positions in softball is catcher. You know, the person that sits behind home plate and tries not to get hit in the face mask by a not-so-soft softball zooming towards them. That’s me. And I love it.

The first game I ever caught in went like this:
Coach: “Ava, put the gear on. You’re catching today”
Me: “Okay…”
So I put on the team’s catchers gear: shin guards, chest protector, helmet, glove (catchers helmets and gloves are different than normal ones). It was an…interesting experience, –and, quite honestly, not a very good one.

But I grew to love the position. The catcher can see everything that’s on the field, and that leads to an important job of being sort of the field leader. People say I’m quiet, but at catcher I can yell very loud if I want to.

You may think there’s nothing more to being a catcher than, well, catching. But there is. I mentioned earlier that the catcher has to be the field leader, and that’s true. It’s the catcher’s job to made sure that, when the ball is hit, everyone knows what they have to do. If the runners on base are faster or slower than usual, the catcher needs to let the people in the field know where to throw the ball to try to make a good play.

One of the things that can turn out good for a catcher is throwing the runner that’s trying to steal second or third base out. When this is achieved, it is one of the greatest feelings in the world. But you have to do it right. First, the batter has to not hit the ball, because how is the catcher supposed to do anything when they don’t even have the ball? Then you actually have to catch the ball, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Once you’ve caught the ball, shift your feet and throw. Sounds fairly easy, right? NO. Have you tried throwing a softball from home plate to second base? That’s 84 feet, 10.25 inches. Now throw it accurately. Preferably very low to the ground so that the short-stop can catch it and tag the runner. Easy? Not really, but it sure is fun when you do it right.

Probably my favorite thing about catching is that you get to know your pitchers really well (shoutout to Jill). You warm up with them, you struggle through games with them, you become friends with them. You call their pitches, catch their strikes, and comfort them when they get down. This is probably the best thing about softball in general: the friends I’ve made and will hopefully never lose.

So thank you softball, thank you catching, and thank you Coach Bill for that fateful day when you told me to get the gear on, it changed my life.

October 27

Fears

Most people are afraid of the dark. Maybe they’re afraid of heights. Or they’re afraid of snakes, spiders scorpions, lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my!

I’m afraid of a few of those, and a great fear of mine is being pulled underwater and dying from lack of oxygen. Yes, lots of happy thoughts in this post so far… Anyway, back to the point. I am afraid of some of the things previously listed, but to me, nothing is scarier than standing on third base during a softball game. 

I’m not kidding, I swear. Can any of my softball friends back me up on this? Please? It can’t be just me. Right? Seriously though, being a base runner can be scary enough. There is always the thought that the catcher -or anyone else for that matter- will throw you out, and nobody wants to get thrown out. But being on third base is the scariest part of baserunning.. You are the one the catcher is paying attention to, and I should know, I play catcher. 

The situation doesn’t even have to be dire for it to be scary to be standing on third base. There doesn’t have to be two outs, the score tied, the game on the line. It’s still scary. Very scary. We could be up by twenty runs with no outs, and my heart would still be beating double-time when I stand on third base (This may or may not be because I had to run around the other two bases before getting to third base). This is especially nerve-racking when the catcher is very good, because she may throw down to the third baseman if you take to big of a lead. But I think it is all worth it when you get to run up and touch home plate, adding another run to your team’s score. It is also very scary when the catcher misses the catch and the ball goes flying into the backstop, because you can try to steal home, but it is always disappointing if you get tagged out.

Its kind of funny, actually. My dad is the head coach, which means he coaches third base when we are on offense, and he says I always seem very calm on when I get to the final base. I guess that goes to show that not everyone is what they seem. 

Anways, I will miss my softball games this weekend because I have a band competition (wheeeee), but next week I will have to face my fear again.

September 21

Home Run!

It felt like it was a million degrees outside, but in reality it was just in the 90s. Last Saturday was the second week of fall softball, but since the week before we had had a double header this game would be the 3rd game of our season. We would actually play two games that day- another double header. We will be playing lots of double headers this season because our team is a combination of two age groups, since not very many people play fall ball in our league. My dad and my friend Jill’s dad had been coaching us since we stared playing softball when I was in 1st grade, and every year since we had been trying to get them to let our team name be the Spider Monkeys. Previously, we had always lost the argument, but this year we had succeeded! We were finally the Spider Monkeys!

The first game was against our rivals, the Diamond Divas. At least, we thought we were rivals, I’m not sure how they feel about it. We were unofficial rivals because in the spring, their team had knocked both of our teams out of the end of season tournament.   We were the visiting team, so we batted first. We started off strong, scoring 4 runs(the inning run limit) and holding them to only 2 runs in the first inning. The second inning went similarly, but this time they only scored one run. We played 3 innings before time expired, with the final score being Spider Monkeys: 12, Diamond Divas: 7

After a glorious 10 minute break in which we ate multigrain chips, it was time for our next game.

The next game was against a team called the Sweep. We stared off even stronger than the last game, scoring 4 runs and holding them to zero. Our pitcher pitched almost a perfect inning, only one batter got a hit for their team that inning. The next inning, I was up to bat. Now here comes the fun part. This might be the reason you even read this post. The ball releases from the pitchers hand, and I make contact. The grounder rolls out into the outfield, gets past the center fielder, and rolls to the fence. I round first base, pass second, run through third, and stomp on home plate. Not too shabby for the first home run of the season. It really should have just been a single, but since the center fielder never touched the ball, it was not an error on her. We won that game as well, but I don’t remember the score.

Overall, it was a good 3rd and 4th games of the season. Our record is now 2-1-1; 2 wins, 1 tie, and 1 loss.

I hope more of our games go that way, but they probably won’t. I still hope that we do good in the future, and that there are real home runs to come!