End game

Days have passed and the ending still stings. Tonight, as we were dropping off our respective kids at our church for Vacation Bible School, three of the guys and I gathered and were rehashing it once more.

Our softball season came to an end Thursday night in the semifinal round of the playoffs. Had we won, we would have played a doubleheader, with the championship game as the nightcap.

It wasn't meant to be.

We lost the game 15-12, but the final score doesn't begin to tell the tale of the epic battle, which played out similarly to our quarterfinal game. Except, this time, we were on the losing side this time.

For starters, Coach moved me to second base for the night. I wasn't thrilled about it and would have much rather been at my usual shortstop position, but I'm a team player. As it turned out, I didn't touch the ball on defense, but there were a few pivotal plays down the stretch that involved ground balls toward the shortstop. I can't help but wonder whether the outcome might have been different if I was playing there. Maybe not ...

We put up one run in the top of the first inning to take an early lead. My first at-bat came in the second inning, and it ended with a strikeout when I whiffed at a pitch to end the inning. It was my first-ever strikeout in my two years of playing in the city league.

Then the floodgates opened for the other team as they scored 10 runs over the next two innings. There were multiple at-bats that resulted in line drives to the outfield, with the ball taking a hard bounce and traveling over the head of the outfielder trying to glove it. On three occasions the ball bounced over the fielder's head. The ground is so hard and dry right now from a lack of rain that it was causing the ball to do funny things all night. And our outfielders - arguably the best in the league - were baffled.

Oh, but we came back. We scored eight runs in the top of the fourth to get within one run. Then, we came back with three more to tie the game and take the lead, 12-10, in the fifth.

And I finally found my hitting stroke. In the fourth, I came up with two outs and the bases loaded. I stroked a line drive over the shortstop that rolled to the outfield fence and cleared the bases to keep the inning going. In the fifth inning, I did it again. I scored both times, too.

The excitement ended there, though. We held the opponent to one run in the bottom of the fifth. But they came back with four runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Our batters went down in order in the top of the seventh and that was the game.

It was fun while it lasted. ... And I'm already looking forward to next year.

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