May 8, 2009
Senior Day at the last Foothill Varsity softball game.
It was a beautiful sunny day. But as the girls came out on the field, something was definitely not right. The catcher was a girl who usually plays shortstop. Right field was played by the catcher. The right fielder was playing center. The shortstop was a girl who never starts. Third base was played by the back up third baseman. And to top it off, the girl playing pitcher was someone who has never pitched in a softball game in her life.
What is Ted thinking? And I am sure I was not the only one in the bleachers with that thought. I heard a few murmurings from parents. If this had been little league with the players six years younger and 10 inches shorter, we wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But mixing up the playing field like this on a whim, especially for a team that is so-far undefeated in league–well that’s just downright crazy. One parent glanced at me, with a questioning look on her face.
“I have no idea what he is doing,” I shrugged. “He didn’t ask my opinion about it!”
First batter was thrown out at first. Okay, one down. I breathed a mini sigh of relief. Just two more outs to go. Because I was pretty sure that my very competitive, driven husband-coach was not going to let this go too far. Not at the risk of letting the other team get an advantage.
Second batter got walked. Third batter was walked. I looked over at my husband-coach standing by the dugout, expecting him to start the move to the mound. Nothing.
Okay, Ted, you better know what you are doing.
Schoolmates cheered the pitcher on as she pitched trajectories that resembled slow pitch tosses over the plate–a very scary thing to do when play fastpitch softball on the high school varsity level.
Cheers erupted as the pitcher struck out the fourth batter.
Two down. One to go.
Fifth batter popped up to the rookie in right field who easily made the catch.
Whew! I swear I could sense a collective sigh of relief from the parents in the stands that the top half of the inning was over and with it Ted’s crazy experiment, which I was pretty sure came about through the coercion of his senior players who wanted to try something new and fun.
In the top of the second inning, the fielders returned to their usual positions–the crazy experiment was over– and we cheered them on to a 3-0 victory.
After the game, I went over to greet Ted at the dugout.
“What was that all about?” I said after congratulating him on the win. And his answer was just as I had suspected. The seniors came to him and talked him into trying out their crazy idea in this their last home season game.
Although he took a huge risk, I was proud of Ted. I know it was a hard thing for him to do. He’s the kind of coach who goes into every game aggressively, with a determination to win. It was very uncharacteristic of him to throw all caution over the fence and let the girls have total fun that first inning.
But I also know it was a game that those senior girls will never forget. There was much laughter on the field that first inning, along with a small sense of accomplishment for attempting something they had never before tried.
Yeah, it was fun. BUT NOT THAT FUN. Now let’s go win the section!