by Tara Tyler
Blazing summer sun. My hat blocks the glare. Sweat’s been dripping down my back since I stepped outside. But I barely notice it. Got my glove, bat, and ball in my bag. I’m ready to play.
I smell the fresh cut grass on the weak breeze coming from the outfield. I love that smell. Not many of those breezes today. I see a few teammates tossing the ball, warming up. Zack sees me and I nod at him and walk over to the dugout. I hook up my bag. Jack comes in at the same time.
“’Sup?” he asks with a chin up hello.
“Not much,” I answer.
I get out my glove. We walk over to the other guys. The coaches say, “Hey, fellas,” to us and we nod at them. We toss the ball back and forth.
“I heard you might pitch today,” says Jack.
“I don’t know. Maybe the last inning,” I say back. I’m not a pitcher. I play second base and outfield. And I can hit. I’ve been hitting pretty good lately, too. I wonder what my record is.
I miss the ball.
“Hey, boy! You’d better concentrate!” yells a coach. He also happens to be my dad. I hate messing up in front of him. I walk over to get the ball. “Hustle!” he orders, so I speed up to a jog.
He meets me at the ball. “You need to stay focused if you want to pitch today,” he threatens in my ear.
“Ok,” is all I have to say. I go back over to throw more with Jack who gives me the “sucks to be you” look.
The coaches call for us to line up and hit grounders to us.
“Keep your gloves down,” one says. None of us miss any.
“Take the field, boys,” another tells us and we take infield practice. The other team just finished and is sitting at the bench with their coach. I think we played these guys before and run-ruled them. Should be a good game.
“Balls in,” the umpire yells. We roll our balls to the dugout. Josh is pitching today. I get in “baseball ready” position at second base. Nick “Jeter” is at short. Max is on first and A.B. is on third. Nolan, Nic and Iassu are in the outfield. Jack is catching. First batter is up.
A strike out and a short to first later, there’s two outs. The next guy pops it right to me and I catch it. We’re up. Alex gets to first. Nick strikes out, he’s been in a slump. Now I’m in the hole. I put on my helmet and gloves. I choose my fat barrel bat. Nic hits a nice line drive out to center. He sends Alex home after he stole a couple of bases but he has to stop at first. Jack is up next and I’m on deck. I practice a couple of swings. Jack gets hit in the leg and walks to first. He looks like he’s in pain, but he’s a baby. He’s fine. Now it’s my turn. I see the signal to hit from coach/Dad. Ok. First pitch is way inside and I have to back out of the way. Nic and Jack advance. The next pitch is perfect and I send it screaming through a great, big hole right up the middle. I round first but stay. Nic and Jack both score.
A.B. is up. I steal second on the first pitch. Then he hits a nice one right to the left fielder for out number two. Now Iassu is up. He can hit but hasn’t been lately. I steal third standing. Iassu walks. Josh is up. Wild pitch. I run home and slide in. I’m safe. Score is 4-0. Josh hits but they get him out at first.
The next few innings were pretty good. Top of the fifth, score is now 10-2. I sat out last inning to warm up. I might actually get to try out my knuckle ball. It’s great!
“Let’s go, Jace,” says coach.
“I’m ready,” I say.
“Let’s see whatchu got,” he says and taps my hat.
I warm up on the mound. This is great! I can’t stop smiling. This is great! I throw some practice pitches to Josh who is catcher now. I feel good. Pitches look good. Bring me a batter. I’m ready!
“Batter up,” calls the ump.
Here I go. Hold ball. Wind up. Let go. The ball does the awesome wobble. Strike one. Yeah! Josh tosses it back. Again. Ball one. Josh gives the knuckle ball sign and I almost laugh at his little wave. I pitch it. The guy hits it, but the spin on the ball sends it slowly back to me and I throw him out at first. One down.
I try my fast ball this time. Called strike one. Back to the knuckle ball. Strike two. These guys don’t see many pitches like this. It’s awesome! Strike three! Two down.
The last guy hits my first pitch, but it goes right to “Jeter” at short and we’re up. One, two, three. Unbelievable! I hope we don’t score just so I can pitch another inning!
We get one more run. Not enough to call the game. Yeah.
I pitch again. One out, two outs. Then I try my fast ball again. The guy hits a nice one to right center and Caleb can’t get to it. Oh, well. He only makes it to first. I go back to the knuckle ball. Strike one. Foul tip, strike two. Then he pops up at me. Three outs, game is over! We won. But I pitched! Yeah! What a rush!
What a game!
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