Wednesday 17 August 2016

Softball: Firsts and Lasts

It was the last night of the Oxford Softball season. Having missed the previous three games due to a pregnant wife/new baby, I was glad to have the chance to take the field one more time. The game was a battle for last place in the division, or, more accurately, to stay out of last place, and to end the season on a high note. My Knights were the home team, so we took the field first.  

I was back in my familiar role as pitcher, and things got off to a good start. The first batter popped one up in foul territory between home and third, and I was able to glove it a dead run for the first out. The next two batters also went quietly.

The Knights scored three in the bottom of the first. I hit a nice liner out to left centre, but their fielder ran it down. After that, we traded runs in the next few innings. I added a few more nice fielding plays, catching two soft liners, and running over to first to take a throw from the first baseman in order to make an out. (This is a very common baseball play, but very uncommon at our level of softball. It was a first for me this season).

My batting continued to go poorly. My second plate appearance ended with a fly directly at the right fielder, and the third with a weak tapper back to the pitcher.

As we came to bat in the sixth inning (in a seven inning game), we were up by three runs. I led off the inning and sent a shot towards the gap in right field. The fielder managed to cut it off, but not before I had stretched it into a double. Two batters later, I came around to score. We added two more in the inning.

So with a six run lead, I took the mound for the last time, and had one of the strangest innings I’ve had as a pitcher. The first batter drove the ball right at my feet. I got a glove on it, but couldn’t hold on to it. I scampered after it, scooped it up, and managed to throw it straight over my first baseman... Annoyed with myself, I went back to pitching. The next batter sent a screamer right at my face. I got my glove up just in time to save my nose, but again couldn’t hold on. For the second time in a minute, I was running after a ball that was rolling away from me. This time, I grabbed it and threw a strike to the shortstop to get the running from first. One down, one on, back to pitching. A couple of pitches later, and the third batter in a row sent one straight at me. This time, I snatched the ball out of the air and threw a strike to my first baseman, catching the runner off first: double play. The first double play I’ve been a part of all season.

And just like that, the game was over. Probably for the best as I was apparently wearing a target on my chest.

After the game, I discovered that the opposing team had named me MVP (a purely fielding award). It was my first MVP this season, partly because pitchers rarely win, but mostly because there are usually better players on the field! It was a great way to end the season. It wasn’t a great year for the Knights in the standings, although we did avoid last place, but it was a great one for me having fun!

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