Since Cristi was 8, she has been in love with softball. Up until then,she’d been in gymnastics, but once she tried softball, she walked away from balance beams and floor mats and never once looked back.
Yesterday, Cristi said goodbye to competitive, fastpitch softball as she played her last college game. She graduates in two weeks from Greenville College and the full implications of what she is saying goodbye to hit her as soon as she took off her catcher’s gear and hung up her bat (which was rather hot after going 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs).
She’s shed a lot of tears since last night. And quite honestly, as her sentimental mom, I’m shedding some too.
Cristi has been playing softball pretty much all year round for 14 years. She’s played shortstop, outfield, catcher, and even tried pitching once in little league. Once she reached middle school, she settled into catching and in college enjoyed playing the catcher and outfield positions. The lessons learned and character developed throughout 14 years have contributed hugely into making Cristi the person she is today. Unfair coaching, prickly teammates, fights for her position, splinters from sitting the bench on certain teams, learning to lead from behind her catcher’s mask–through all of these she’s learned persistence and has developed a fighting spirit that has made her a strong person.
Snapshots of her softball career flash through my mind:
….her tears in 8th grade when coach Dad got ejected from the game for arguing with the umpire.
….her grand slam home run in 8th grade.
….throwing up in the garbage can during high school games when she came off the field from catching because it was so hot.
….playing a little league game with a cast on her foot.
….hearing “Come on, now, Sparky” from her high school coach.
….seeing her play softball in March for the last time.
And so, it ends. The catcher’s mask, mitt, shin and chest guards,the batter’s helmet, and the bat will be put away for good.
Yet the character she has developed is here to stay. I couldn’t be prouder of the strong Godly woman she has become.
And when the next softball season rolls around? She’ll be back at the field, fulfilling the longheld dream of coaching with her dad. She may be off the field, but she will not be out of the game!