Unlike the Texas Rangers, our softball team isn't at the bottom of our division, but we're close, being in third place out of four teams. We dropped another heartbreaker yesterday, losing by two runs. The game found us opposite Faith Lutheran, the undefeated squad in our group, and it was certainly the best game we've played against them. Yet again, I believe if we would have had time for one more inning, we may have been able to stage a comeback. Our defense was much tighter, even with some of the mental errors made. I was guilty of committing one of these; I could have turned a double play and failed to do so. I was playing at short, with a runner on first. The ball was hit to my side of second base, and I jumped on it, coming up toward the bag. I could see our second baseman moving to the base, and I thought she might get there before me, so I tossed her the ball. She, on the other hand, figured I had everything in hand, so she was surprised to get the ball. We got the runner out at second, but her throw to first was too late. If I had just committed to making the out at second myself, we could have pulled off the double. I'll know better next time. As a team, we were much more patient at the plate, and that helped us with getting on base enough to keep the score close. I was two-for-three at the plate, and if I been a little more patient myself on that third at-bat, I may have gone for a thousand on the day. As it were, I did get one run in off of my second single, though my first hit, leading off the second inning, was my best of the day, a shot over the pitcher into center that dropped in front of the outfielders. I think the fact that team was simply playing better as a unit made this loss a little easier to swallow. Again, winning more would be nice, but it's great to get out to the ball field for an hour or so and play, sharing time with friends and neighbors. One advantage of playing the same teams over and over again is that you get to know your opposite numbers, which leads to fun and interesting on-field banter. Here's hoping the weather is as great this coming Sunday as it was yesterday.
So dropping game four this past Sunday was a little frustrating. I can't speak for the rest of the team, but that's how I felt. Our opponent played a make-up game just before our scheduled bout, so you'd think they would be more tired than usual, but in reality it appeared to have just been a decent warm-up for them. We got behind early, again, but would tighten up as the game worn on. We just couldn't quite come all the way back, and we lost by two runs. As a team, we weren't as patient at the plate as we should have been, and that went double for yours truly. I was two for four on the day; one of my outs was a pop-up, the other a grounder back to the pitcher. On both of those, I should've been more patient. My best hit of the day was my first, a deep single I ripped to left-center that scored two runs. Defensively, I was at shortstop, and had a little action, but spent a goodly portion of the game playing cutoff man to the left side outfielders. Once again, if we would have had time for another inning, we may have been able to pull this one out. That's how close it was coming down the stretch. If we could be as tight at the outset of a game as we get midway through, we'd have no problems overcoming run deficits. In the end, though, it's still just a game, and while winning's always more fun than losing, it's getting to play that keeps me going back. There's always next week!
So yesterday was the third game of the spring softball season, and we faced for the first time--this season--the good folks from Flower Mound United Methodist Church. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I really like playing against these ladies and gentlemen. Lots of kindred spirits, they keep the game in perspective, and yes, it's really a lot of fun to win, but if you can't do that, at least have fun playing the game. The first inning was a back-and-forth affair, the score 1-1, our team playing the role of the visitor. The second inning we became unraveled, with their tacking on something like five or six runs. Before we knew it, we were down by seven, 9-2. Our defense tightened, but our hitting couldn't get anywhere. In the fifth inning, we staged something of a comeback, closing the run gap to only three, before we took our first out, but then it was two in a row, one of our hitters got on, and then the last out to end the game. It was a decent day for myself at the plate, going two for three. I didn't see a lot of action on defense, being in right-center. Had some stuff drop way short in front of me, which was surprising since the hitters were men, and no, they weren't trying to place the ball there, they were popping up and going just deep enough to get behind the second baseman. Two shots were deep, but high enough to pick up for easy catches. (Though the wind yesterday was hell on figuring out initial trajectory.) I'm just glad that nothing got behind me. We were missing a couple of our regulars, due to this being the first weekend of spring break for our school system, so things weren't quite running as smoothly as they might have otherwise. But it was an enjoyable game, and I, at least, had fun playing.
I totally forgot to blog about the spring softball season opener last week, so for those of you who could really care less, here's all there is to know up through today's play. There are only four teams in the league this season, which is kind of crummy, but this just means we play everyone three times instead of the usual two. The newcomers are from Westside, and I don't know if that's Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, or whatever; I should have asked them when we played them today, but just like forgetting to blog about the game last week... Right, last week. We opened against Faith Lutheran, and to sum up, our hitting didn't show up and theirs did. We chalked it up to the team gelling--we've got a few new players--and getting back in to the rhythm of play. Like the rest of the team, my own time at the plate wasn't well spent. I was only one of three, including hitting in to a fielder's choice. I was in left-center while on defense. I let one ball get behind me, and another took a wicked doink! off my glove, both of which allowed for extra bases. I owned the third inning, though. All three outs came at the expense of their hitting my way, and it was especially pleasing to get that last out while on the run. So the first game was a loss, but we were optimistic about the future, and we'll have two more cracks at the Lutherans. Today we played Westside, and it's always interesting playing a team for the first time. They won the toss and elected to bat first, and the first inning didn't go well for us, with their scoring five runs. The extra bases were usually a case of our team trying to make something happen when we would've been better off just hanging on to the ball. We put a run on the board, but gave up another in the top of second. But then it was time for our bats, to quote one Pedro Cerrano, "to wake up". The end result was a 17-8 victory for our squad. Our defense settled down and tightened up as the game progressed. I was at short this time around, and had a chance at turning a double play twice, but couldn't manage either. I took a cleat-clad toe to the knee while tagging one guy out at second, so that's slightly swollen and aching quite nicely, thanks. The injury streak continues! My pal Brad was monster at the plate today, ripping an in-the-park homer his first time up, putting a few runs on the board. His second trip to the plate was a triple which netted us at least one more run. No chance at hitting the cycle, though, as with only an hour to play, he only had one more at-bat, and popped out to left-center. I was .667 at the plate today, with an unintentional bunt my first time up. Hey, it advanced a runner, and I made it to first without a throw even being attempted. (I may be chunky, but I'm quick.) I'll take it. My last at-bat was my best thus far in the early season, a shot in to left-center I should've stretched in to a double: I thought the fielder had made a good catch off the ground and was coming up throwing, so I trotted back to first when I could've been going to second. Oh, well; the base coach thought he was going to get the ball back in quick, too. I did bring in two runs on that shot, so I'm hoping that's a trend for the rest of the season. My RBI total this past fall was paltry. So the team's at five hundred two games in, and we played much better during this second game. Things look to be a little tough for us next week; we'll be short one of our gals (meaning with only nine players we have to take an out at the top of the batting order), and we'll be playing our friends from Flower Mound UMC. Of course, this latter means I'm really looking forward to the game, as it's always fun playing against them.
So, with the spring softball season upon us, I went to the batting cages this afternoon. After a four-month-plus layoff. Oy. The experience started out rather nice. I asked for three tokens (20 balls per token) and forked over my five bucks. The attendant "miscounted" and I went to the cages with four tokens. Must be a slow day. The first twenty balls were all about just connecting and getting timing down. The second set of twenty were the best of the day, and I was putting them where I wanted to, more or less. After a brief respite, I started on the third set, and could tell I was tiring midway through. Another rest, then the fourth set, and I was pretty much hitting every ball back to the pitcher or shortstop. Mental note: longer rests between sets next time, which would help if other people went with me. It actually was a slow day at the cages. There was a guy in the other slow-pitch cage, and he left when I started on my third set. There was a guy and gal taking turns in the 75 mph baseball cage, and a mom watched her son in one of the slower-speed baseball cages. So I appreciated the fourth token, even if it didn't yield desirable results.
This past Sunday, the 27th, we had the first softball game of the 2006 fall season. I am continuously amazed how we can go three months without seeing one another, except for those rare moments at church, and yet fall right back in to the same banter and camaraderie in the dugout. This first game was against the Renegades of First UMC in Lewisville, and we were behind from the first inning on. The banter and camaraderie may have returned, but our playing ability was lacking. Still, we fought on, keeping the score close throughout. I found myself at left center, where I had played only a couple of times before. We only had the minimum number of players show up, five of each gender, so there were no substitutions available. I don't mind the outfield, though I need to get my arm strength up, and it would help if I dropped some of my excess baggage--of which there is now ten less pounds--to make it easier to get around the grassy expanse beyond the baselines. I made one great catch; the ball hung up there forever, in the sun, but in the end, I barely had to move at all, just concentrating and not losing sight of that white sphere. I also had a bad error, not squaring myself in front of a hopper, and it bounced right over my glove, allowing an in-the-park home run. My time at the plate was pretty abysmal, especially considering I'd hit the cages the morning before. I went one for three at bat, but made it to first twice, thanks to a throwing error by the opposition shortstop. In the end, our team staged a fifth-inning comeback--home team advantage comes through again!--scoring three runs to win the game by one. We were pleased with our hanging in to the end, and hopefully this game cleared all of the cobwebs from our collective play. No games this coming weekend, due to the holiday, so we'll have to wait until the tenth to face our friends from Flower Mound UMC.
I haven't blogged yet about the spring softball season, and given how today's game was the best one this season for me personally, I thought an update in order. The league expanded to eight teams this season, so we will have a four-team playoff at the end. Currently, we're the number two team, with not much hope of catching number one. That spot is held by one of the new teams, and they're good. You're doing really well against that team if you lose by less than double digits. They're pounding everybody. My fervent hope is after a couple of seasons they'll get bored and move on. Today's game was against the other new team. We got off to a slow start, and fell behind early. We slowly battled back, and I went in to the game in the fourth inning, at third base. I didn't see much action, fielding-wise, but was able to make it count when I did. We had a bases loaded situation, with one out, where the line drive came to me, I threw it home for the second out, and we held the runners at all three bases again. The next batter popped out to center-right, getting us out of the inning. My first trip to the plate proved fruitful. I had yet to collect any RBIs in the previous five games; it seemed I was always coming up to the plate with a runner on first or no runners on at all, and when you're pretty much a singles hitter, and in those situations, it doesn't lend itself toward scoring opportunities. Today, Tiffany had just cranked a two-out double to score a run and she was at second. First pitch, I swing and connect. Wow. Did that feel ever so good coming off the bat. Deep to center-left field, over the heads of the outfielders. A triple, with a run scored. The second-best hit I've had since I began playing on this team two-and-a-half years ago. (Number one would be the other triple I hit in another season, which was nearly an in-the-park home run and scored more runs.) I would score when Jennifer, our coach, knocked a single up the middle. My second and final at-bat was a single, right up the middle in to shallow center, and it, too, scored a run. I would advance to second when the opposing pitcher walked Jen, then head from second to home when Chris D. put one in to deep center-right. The only downer was that I pulled my left quad a bit rounding third, limping to the plate. So it takes six games for me to get a single RBI, and batting 1.000 today, I get two. The team improves to 4-2, and we remain in second place with two more games to go. I won't play next week; we have tickets to the Stars' playoff game, provided they don't get swept by Colorado after a disastrous opener.
Today was the last game of the fall softball season. We went in to our game tied for first with our opponent, Trietsch Memorial UMC. It was a disaster, and we lost 12-2, finishing second--again--and in a tie with Flower Mound UMC, who won the game before ours to also finish 7-3. For reasons she failed to explain to anyone, our coach decided to shift half the team to positions they hadn't played all season. (For some of us, ever.) Due to the overabundance of male personnel, I split time with Eric at first base. I have never played first base. I've played a little second, done time behind the plate, but mostly I've always played shortstop and my mainstay, third base. I don't do the outfield, and I don't pitch. But today, I'm put at first. And at third? One of our ladies, who usually pitches or plays first. Our left fielder got moved to right. My first inning on defense, I noted to the coach that the baseline was on the wrong side. How prophetic this would prove to be later in the game. Hitter puts a shot down the line, right to our girl on third. She corrals it and fires it toward first, but she's wide to my left. I'm used to playing the bag with my right foot on it, because usually I'm at third and throws are coming from short or the outfield. So, being a creature of habit, where's my right foot? On the bag. Stretching and shifting to try to make the catch, and keeping my right foot on the bag, I move in to the baseline and collide with the runner. Yeah, my bad. Sue me for not thinking more about the position I've never played in before. The runner gets an extra bag, they score a run, and I get a bruised knee and take myself out for the rest of the inning. Our lady at third had problems throwing to first the entire game. I don't blame her; she was in a position she had never played in before. Only two at bats for yours truly, and I was .500 today, with a single. It was an extremely frustrating game. This is not to say that if none of these changes would have been made that the outcome would have been different. Trietsch was hitting well, and our hitters kept putting them out to their talented left fielder. But you have to wonder how this sudden change, for what amounts to the championship game, had on our collective subconscious. Uncomfortable players don't play well. I, for one, was uncomfortable. We'll see what happens in the spring.
The game before ours this past Sunday was important for us: we were tied with one of the teams playing for first in the league. They lost. Then, so did we. Now, instead of a two-way tie for first, we find ourselves in a three-way tie, because when we handed the win to the gang from Flower Mound UMC, they joined us and Trietsch Memorial UMC at the top of the standings. It was a good game, a lot of back and forth. Both teams were hitting well, both teams made their share of flubs. In the end, we made more flubs, and they hit better, besting us by three runs. I only fielded for half the game, and didn't see much action except for a couple of forced outs at third, and one runner who turned his double in to a triple when the throw to me was a hair too slow. Some of my teammates were upset at the call of safe, but it honestly could have gone either way. I didn't help the team or myself at the plate, going one for three for the second game in the row. I really need to hit the cages again.
This past weekend marked game six of our fall season, so now we only have four to go. I missed game five, due to a shin injury I sustained in game four. The team lost a heartbreaker, so at the midpoint of the season, we were 4-1. With game six, we started over playing against the other teams in our league, and just as with game one, this go-around we were up against the kids from First UMC of Lewisville. We're going to have to keep our eyes on these boys and girls; they're getting better the more they play, and we had to fight every inning, eeking out the win by three runs. I was at third the entire game this time, but didn't see much action, other than some forced outs at my bag. My time at the plate was barely above the suckage level, as I went one for three, a bunt single that wasn't intended to be a bunt. Apparently, I'm faster than I look, too, managing to leg that out to get on base. One of my teammates remarked, at the end of the inning, "Man, you were fast!" Somebody clock me next time. So the team stands at 5-1, and through the miracle of math multiples, my season batting average and my lifetime average are the same: .583. I'm 7-12 for the season, and 21-36 lifetime. See, kids? Math is cool. Study hard.
Our team had to do something in our fourth game of the fall season that it hadn't had to do in the first three games: come from behind to take the win. Our foes from Faith Lutheran played a solid game and took an early six-run lead. It wasn't until the end of the second inning that we were able to tie things up, but Faith Lutheran kept extending their lead. Our defense eventually was able to hold their scoring while our offense caught up. Getting the last at-bat as the home team helped us immensely. Going in to the bottom of the fifth, the score was tied 12-12. Heather led off, and when the throw to first was flubbed, she was able to take second. Kevin was next up, and the game ended on a walk-off bunt/error. Kevin wasn't trying to bunt, mind you, that's just the way it turned out. The pitcher flubbed the throw to first, and Heather rounded third to score and end the game. I only played half the game, due to the number of guys who showed up, and only got one at-bat. I made it count, however, getting my first extra-base hit of the season, a double, and scoring a run when Dave moved from second to home. Fielding was a mixed performance. I had some great catches, including a line drive and foul pop-up I had to hustle to snag, but had just as many flubbed grounders. It was just one of those games.
(Yes, I know "threesey" isn't a real word, but I was attempting a rhyme.) Today was game three of our fall season, and I must confess I have never before been embarrassed to wear the jersey of my team as I was today. Oh, we won, 15-10. The embarrassment was due to the conduct of a few of our teammates. The ump behind the plate was being very inconsistent with his pitch calling. Wildly inconsistent, with regard to what constituted a ball for one team versus the other. You can intuit the inconsistency was not in our team's favor. As I have gotten older, I have mellowed with regard to sports officials. For the most part. These are guys and ladies who have to make a decision in a nanosecond, including times when the call could honestly go either way. Umpires, referrees, they're not perfect. They're human, and like all of us are prone to mistakes. I understand that, and respect their authority. The remaining issue I have with sports officials is a lack of consistency. If pitch A is a ball, and pitch B comes across in exactly the same spot, it should be called a ball, too. Today's umpire was not being consistent. By the fourth inning, the ire of the team had been raised to a fever pitch. We were on our third pitcher, and not necessarily because the first two were throwing junk. Mind you, there were balls being thrown, but as I murmured to one of my teammates on the bench (I switched off every other inning with Dave at 3d), the law of averages dictates that some of these pitches had to be strikes. In the top of the fifth, some words were shared from the dugout by one of our teammates, loud enough for the umpire to hear. This was after an exchange while this player was at the plate. The umpire called our coach over, and the team was informed, via this conversation, that if anyone uttered another such comment, they would be ejected. It was a sad moment, I feel, for our team. After the game, our coach informed us that while she was catching in the fourth, she had asked for some consistency in the pitch calling from the umpire. His reply was a simple nod. The only failing I see here was that our coach should have informed the entire team of this at the end of the inning. The unpleasantness might have then be avoided. I'm sure some of you are thinking, so what's the big deal? The big deal is that this is a church league. Yes, we are out there to play, have fun, and yes again, to win. However, we should be doing so in a manner worthy of the God we call Lord. We failed to do so today. It has been said on more than one occasion and by more than one person that Christians are their own worst enemies. More often than not, our words bear no witness for us to the world. Rather, it is our conduct which bears that witness, and we failed in that regard. Our opposition, which was losing, showed what good sportsmanship should look like. Our league's games are not the only ones in progress. At the park we play at, there are two other fields in operation. There are spectators, and kids playing on the jungle gym. Sometimes, you may get only one chance to witness to another human being, and you may not even know it. Again, the witness may be through your conduct and never through your words. Who may have been watching our game today, and saw what happened? Who may have thought about checking our church out, but now won't set foot inside of it? Who may have thought, Gee, if those Christians are just like everyone else, what's the point? Playing softball is fun, yes, and we play to win, but we should keep in mind we are playing to witness, too, and today, we blew it. Personally, I would rather lose with dignity, with our witness to the world intact. The cliché goes, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." It's true; we're still human, though we work to emulate the one Who's name we bear, the one Who called us to follow Him. People will lose their tempers; that happened today. But we should always be mindful of the consequences of losing that temper. For the record, I went three for three at the plate, with two RBIs. My defense could have been better; I had a guy cold at first, and my throw is four feet off my baseman's stretch. The team won. And we lost.
I really didn't want to post anything this past Sunday other than the 9/11 remembrance, but then I forgot to follow up with a note on our second game of the fall season. We played against my favorite opponent, and they gave us a run for our money. I had a much better game, and it helped I got to field for most of the game, playing at short for one inning, then at third for the rest. Made some good plays, my throws made it to first accurately and quickly, and I had one of FM UMC's players telling me to "stop doing that!" (I snagged her pop fly that went foul to end her time at the plate.) My own time at the plate was better spent this game, going two for three, with my first RBI of the season. We were able to hold off our pals from Flower Mound UMC by two runs, with the final score being 16-14, and putting us at 2-0.
The fall softball season began yesterday for the co-ed church league I participate in. We opened against the sophomore contenders of First United Methodist of Lewisville. (Their rookie season was earlier this year, during the spring.) A lot of youngsters on the FUMC team, but that can cut both ways. We had a full complement of players show up, and then some. We had three-way and two-way rotations going, as well as outright substitutes. I managed to play three of the six innings, squatting behind the plate and taking the hurls from Heather, our second pitcher of the game. So not much fielding work for me during the first game. My time in the batter's box showed the results of not putting bat to ball in four months. I went 0-2, sending out grounders that resulted in fielder's choices, getting my teammates plugged at second. Definitely time to hit the cages, and friends for company be damned. Everyone else did well at the plate, and our pitching and defense were superb. The final tally was 17-1, and we begin the season with a win. No play Labor Day weekend, and Katrina has seen fit to deny our trip to the New Orleans area to finish clearing out my wife's childhood home. So I'll try to take advantage of the off-week. Anyone for the batting cages and throwing around?
So at this past Sunday's game, we learned that Faith Lutheran--the team which handed us our only loss--lost their game earlier in the day. A win on our part would put us in a tie with them at the top of the league. Our game was called after the top of the 5th inning, due to our 11-0 score over the opposition. I played all five innings, the first two at third, the remaining three behind the plate. I was much more comfortable on defense this game, and got in a good catch and a good throw to first during my two innings at third. Offensively, I was a wee bit off. Only at the plate twice, and the first time up I struck out looking. The second at-bat was a single, right up the middle, which advanced a runner. So in the past three games, I am now seven of eight at the plate. I'm really pleased with the way my hitting has picked up, and I'm convinced it's because I'm choking up on the bat more. I really need to get to the cages for some workout with the new grip. My season average slipped to .667, and lifetime dipped to .583. All games for this coming Sunday have been rescheduled, due to it being Mother's Day. This means our second-game showdown with Faith Lutheran will now be the last game of the season. Depending on what happens in two weeks, it could be the game for all the marbles of the spring season.
The team improved to 6-1 today, as we lost to our friends at Flower Mound UMC, 14-10. Yes, that's right, we won, but we lost. FM UMC didn't have enough players to start the game, and had to forfeit. A couple of players from Trietsch UMC, who had just finished the game before ours, volunteered to play for FM UMC, so our two teams could play. This was, however, unbeknown to our entire team, with the exception of our coach. I'm glad we got to play, and equally glad that we technically won by forfeit, because as the game wore on, our play got worse, and we relinquished the lead. As for myself, I'll chalk up my poor fielding to the two-week layoff: a Texas Rangers game last Sunday, and out of town the week before that. I switched off with Dave between third and catcher, and I really didn't have a good day at either position. It seemed I could never get the ball down quick enough to tag a runner out (I never saw a forced play the entire game), and I made critical throwing errors which oftentimes meant an extra bag for the runner. I just plain sucked. I did have one great grab in the 3d inning, as I leapt to snag a high line drive that was going to drop in to shallow left center before it met my glove. One could say that I redeemed myself at the plate, but I didn't feel it. I like playing a solid, complete game. Offensively, this was my best game of the year. I went three for three, two singles and a triple, with two RBIs. The triple felt soooooo good coming off the bat. If I could have kept it about four feet flatter, it might have made it out of the park. As high as it was, it fooled the outfielder and got behind her, rolling to the fence. If it weren't for her strong-armed counterpart who got to the ball first, I might have had a chance at an in-the-park home run. A long shot, to be sure, but interesting and fun to think about. So after seven games, five of which I've played in, I'm 11 of 16, for an average of .687, with a walk and three RBIs for the season. Not bad, but still much room for improvement. Even more improvement is required on defense. This may come through more field time, should I start playing for the men's team on Thursday nights...
So the team suffered its first loss of the season today, dropping to 3-1. Against an old competitor, the team collectively couldn't get much going on offense. Our defense was fairly solid when we got to handle the ball. It was the getting-to-handle-the-ball part which proved to be the problem, as the final score was 13-4. As the old adage goes, "Hit the ball to where they ain't," and our opponents proved quite adept at just that. Personally, it was a pretty good day, though that doesn't mean much in the end. I was 3-3 at the plate, all singles. No RBIs this game. Batting clean-up, you'd think I would have been able to drive someone in, but that goes back to the team collectively not doing much on offense. I had little to do on defense during the first two innings. I actually found myself thinking at one point, I wish someone would hit something this way. Be careful what you wish for... I did have this great play in the 4th inning that I was proud of. One of their power hitters drove the ball right to me on the ground, a hard smack that didn't require me to move laterally much. I corralled the ball and fired it across the infield to first, getting the out while the hitter was still a couple of feet from the bag. That felt really good, certainly the personal highlight of the day. This was one of the teams I thought we'd have problems against, and I was right. This church used to field two teams, and it appears that this year, for myriad reasons I'm sure, they've consolidated in to one. The week off didn't help much, either, at least in terms of keeping us in a playing groove, but last week was Easter, so that's perfectly understandable for a church league. (All the leagues that play on the weekend had last weekend off.) Nothing left to do now but shake it off and get ready for next week, though the team will have to do it without yours truly. I'll be coming back from New Orleans next Sunday. We're heading down to visit my wife's family, and attend a 10-year law school reunion.
The team went 3-0 this Sunday with a resounding 19-0 defeat of our opponent, another rookie outing by a new church. The bats were certainly mighty for us this week, as the team was able to put together great strings of singles and doubles to mount scoring opportunities. I fielded from third the entire game, as we only had five guys this week. There was one error on my part, which was saved on the next play by Gary at short, when he turned a double play. That was one of four doubles we turned this game, and I was in on the last one. My time at the plate was the worst yet, as I went one for three. The first time at bat, I hit in to a fielder's choice to end the inning. The second time was worse, as I struck out looking. (In this league, you step up to the plate starting with a 1-1 count.) The called strike looked exactly like the previous pitch, which was called a ball. It was low and outside. I guess this strike just crossed the edge of the plate. The third time was a single right up the middle, which advanced runners and got me my first RBI of the year. My overall average for the still-young season dropped to an even .500. The team looked really good. After we turned the fourth double, I heard from the opposing bench, "We've got to get the ball past the infield. These guys are stopping everything." Quite the compliment, and much appreciated. We're off for Easter Sunday, then it's in to the meat of the schedule, as we pick up games against teams that have been traditionally tough. It will be fun to see if we can maintain what has become consistent play on both sides of the ball.
So as the boys of summer gear up for another season of America's game, we dreamers suited up for game two of our spring season. I only fielded 2 of the 5 innings, but felt much better this time around. I didn't handle the ball as much as I would have liked, but simply felt more comfortable back in the position. There was this great play in the second inning. The batter put a shot in to center left, and the runner on first came around second, heading to third. A great throw by Keith, the center-left fielder, combined with a second great throw by Gary, playing shortstop and acting as the cutoff man, nailed the runner while she was still two steps from the bag. It felt really good. Except for the knee she put in the side of my right leg, just below my knee. I didn't know until about an hour later how big of a bruise I had. I know she didn't do it intentionally, it's just one of those breaks of the game, and my first injury of the season. At the plate, I had a better day, going 2 for 3. No RBIs again, but that's what happens when for one of those at-bats you're the first man at the plate for the inning. The second injury of the season came during the fifth, and last, inning, when I scraped up my right shin while mis-sliding in to second. Still beat the tag, and it's just that top layer or two of skin, which will scab over relatively quickly, so it's a small price to pay. The team we played is probably our favorite team to play against. I don't mean that in any sort of insulting way, like they're an easy win or anything. It's the team from Flower Mound UMC, and they're just a fun group of folks to play against. I see similar affections amongst the teammates, and we enjoy a certain good-natured ribbing and conversation with them during and after the game that we just don't have with any of the other teams. I see them as kindred spirits; it's great to win, and you play to win, but you really just want to have a good time playing ball. Truth be told, so long as they're not playing us, I root for these guys and gals. In the end, we managed to outlast them. After we went up huge in the third, FM UMC began a comeback, and looked to be on the verge of pulling it off in the bottom of the fifth. Our defense held and the final score was 15-11, putting us at 2-0 with 10 games left to play. Still a lot of season to go...
Our softball league's spring season began today. Most of the old crew was back, with a couple of new faces. We faced a new opponent for this first game, as one of the town's Methodist churches is fielding a second unit this year. I was on third, as usual, playing four of the five innings. (With one extra man, we had a three-way rotation going.) From a fielding perspective, I'm out of practice. My throws to first were a wee bit short each time. At the plate, I was much happier with my performance, going 2-4 with a walk. No RBIs this game, but I did advance runners each time I got on base. Final score was 18-7, and we're 1-0 to kick off the season. It was a good start, working a lot of the kinks out after being off for four months. My time off was much longer, due to the injury I sustained at the end of last year's summer season, and it showed. Time to hit the cages, and get to throwing around more with the guys in the neighborhood. One of our ladies took a shot to the head in the second inning. She was on third, and the batter at the plate, another lady, tattooed the ball right down the third-base line and beaned her before she could get out of the way. She was very woozy, but never passed out. One of the guys on our team is the assistant fire chief for the town, and has some EMS training, and we kept her under observation on the bench the rest of the game. We all encouraged, asked, and begged her to go to the hospital to get checked out, just to be assured there was nothing critically wrong. We'll be checking up on her in the coming days.