Back in the softball life again

It’s a new season and I’m playing for a different team, but I’ve still got some softball left in me.

Last season was a blur. And it shows in the fact my last post about last season was last May. As the season continued, it was apparent our team was in its twilight as we struggled to stay competitive, let alone keep the team together because a lot of our guys were bailing – admirably so – to coach their kids’ T-ball teams. A couple of our key guys also changed jobs and moved away midseason. 

The last game of which I have any recollection was a mid-June game that didn’t even go in the books. A storm of Armageddon-like predictions had been brewing that afternoon, but we all headed to the ballpark anyway, hoping to squeeze in that night’s game. We got the game started, and our team was spraying balls all over the field, piling on runs in the process. We thought our offense was finally waking up from its early season slumber. I was on-deck when a lightning bolt struck in the distance, and that was all we played that night. The rest of the season – though fun – was a disappointment in the win column and we didn't come close to matching our championship level of the previous seasons.

So, as this spring approached, I was prepared for playing with a different kind of team than we’d had during previous years, but I figured we’d keep some of our core guys and been just fine. I also had hoped, like some of my teammates, that I might be coaching Phoebe, too, but she had no interest in playing organized ball this year. … And then, after a racquetball game with Coach in early April, I asked when our season was starting and received the bad news. We didn’t have enough guys to field a team this summer. The team was officially disbanding.

So I was a free agent. Which lasted no more than a few days. The leader of my-now-former-team’s arch-rival in the league – the team we battled on multiple occasions, including intense playoff games in two consecutive years, one of which should have ended with an amazing triple play – 
heard of our team’s break-up. He reached out to me and another one of my former teammates – a great player, by the way, who would be the first player I’d pick off my old team if I was starting a new one – to let us know he had a couple roster spots open for us if we wanted them.

Both of us accepted and we were on the field with our new team tonight. 

I got the started at third base and, of course, got the first ball hit my way. It was a hot shot a couple steps to my left. I got to it and stabbed it, but the runner was far enough down the line that it wasn’t worth attempting the throw to first. … We got that runner later when we caught him in a rundown between third and home plate, and I got the assist on the out.

I also should note that a funny thing happened as we were starting the game. The lights covering the left side of the field went out, so we played the first inning with the field only partially lit, including a mostly dark left field. As the left fielder noted, it was a good thing we were playing with a yellow ball.

In the bottom of the first inning, our bats got rolling. I batted in the seventh spot and got to the plate with a couple runners on and one out. The first pitch I saw was right in my wheelhouse, I swung and smacked it for a line drive single through the hole on the left side. … The next batter hit a ball into the outfield that allowed me to go from first to home, sliding in just ahead of a tag at the plate. It was awesome.

To start the second inning, the first batted ball – a hard bouncer – came to me again. I gloved it cleanly and threw from my knees, a couple steps off the third base line, to get the runner at first base. Another pretty awesome turn, I must say.

And that was pretty much the end of the highlight reel.

By then the ballpark lights had returned to normal. And all the balls coming off our opponent’s bats seemed to find holes in the field. I muffed a couple ground balls, too.

In my second trip to the plate, I took a two-out walk. The next batter hit a hard ground ball to the left side, and I took off on contact. As I was rounding second, the throw to first got past the baseman, and I rolled to home and scored standing up. … In my third and last at-bat, I hit a soft grounder down the third base line and was thrown out.  

We lost the game 20-11. … But it sure was fun to be playing again.

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