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”
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.