The party's over

So my first year in The ‘Ville’s city softball league ended like this.

With a win in our last game a couple weeks ago and a loss by another team, we took the regular season league championship. We ended the regular season with a 9-3 record and a seven-game winning streak.

We were on a roll.

Tuesday night, the playoffs began.

Before our game, our team was presented with the regular season championship trophy.

And the team photo will be appearing in the local newspaper due to hit doorsteps any day.

In the opening round, we set our minds to play small ball and work the counts to get on base. We played near flawless defense. And it worked.

We won the game 19-10. Eight in a row.

I went 2-for-3 with a walk. Both of my hits were line drives to the left side on 3-2 counts.

My only downfall was the fact that I wasn’t wearing spikes. I have a pair of metal spikes from my baseball days, but those are illegal in softball. So I’ve gotten by all season in tennis shoes and it never affected me … But now that we’re in a drought, the infield dirt is as dry as an Arizona desert.

After my first hit, the ensuing batter hit a ball to the outfield that should have advanced me from first to third, but I slipped on the dirt around second base. I caught myself and stumbled back to the bag safely, but my confidence in my running game was shaken.

I started the game in the DH role with an opportunity to play the field later. After my slip, however, I opted to stay in the dugout. It was best for the team.

Like I said, it worked. We won.

* * *

We rode into tonight’s 6 o’clock semifinal game knowing that a win would put us in the championship game at 8 o’clock.

We batted first and plated four runs in the top inning. But the other team came right back with five runs of their own. We didn’t play good defense and botched a few balls that should have been outs. Getting the start at my usual third base tonight, I cleanly fielded a hot shot, but then made a bad throw to first base.


It was that kind of a game.

Tight. Intense. And all of it in the 99-degree heat of the evening. Seriously.

I turned in a 2-for-4 night at the plate. My second hit was a beauty – a line drive that dropped deep in the left field gap. But the combination of dry dirt and my worn out tennis shoes slowed me again. Had I been wearing spikes, I’d like to think I could have stretched it into a double.

Every time we took a lead, they’d come right back.

We were plagued by played poor defense. The same kind of defense that played a big part in all of our losses.

And then an unfortunate call.

We hit the field for the bottom half of the second-to-last inning knotted in a tie.

They loaded the bases with no outs.

Then, a deep fly ball to left field. It looked as though it was a goner. A grand slam.

But our 6-foot 5-inch left fielder timed his jump perfectly and caught the ball just as it was crossing over the fence.

As all of the other runners tried to advance, he launched a perfect throw to the shortstop for the cutoff.

The shortstop fired to home.

Our catcher caught the ball and put down the tag for the second out.

In the meantime, the runner on second was barreling toward me at third base.

Our catcher saw it and fired the ball toward me.

I made the catch and put down the tag.

Triple play!

Our guys erupted and started to run off the field.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuut the umpire called the runner safe.

I’ve been playing the sequence over and over in my head. I keep seeing myself catching the throw and putting down the tag for the out. Nothing else.

That runner who was called safe at third scored the go-ahead run for the other team on the ensuing batter’s single.

We went 1-2-3 in the top half of the final inning. And that was it.

Game over. We lost 16-15.

Season over.

A shocker and heartbreaker at the same time.

It will be a tough one to get over. … But who am I kidding? It was a heckuva season, and I had a blast.

I have one goal for the off season: Purchase a good pair of rubber spikes.

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