We gave away our softball game tonight.
We played poor defense the first inning and gave up six or seven runs. To the other team’s credit, it was not all on our defense – they were hitting the ball solidly, too. … Like we always do, our team pulled together and chipped away at their lead. But we continued to give up a run or two in the successive innings and could never fully catch up.
Finally, in the second-to-last inning we put together a string of hits and closed within three runs of the lead. … And in our last inning of at-bats we put some more runners on and managed to score one addition run. I hit a ground ball down the third baseline, but the third baseman made a play on it and threw the lead runner out at second base. The tying run came to the plate with me on first base and two down, but he popped out to first base to end the game.
So this week’s game ended up being a repeat of last week. We lost a game tonight that we could have and should have won with a little better play, and we won by forfeit Tuesday night because our opponent couldn’t find enough players – which is funny because our team also was struggling to find players for Tuesday night’s game. Most of the guys on our team are educators with young kids, which doesn’t always make it easy to play softball considering all the school activities happening at this time of year.
Our record sits at 3-2. Or – taking out wins by forfeit – 1-2 in games we’ve actually played. We’re 3-0 on Tuesday nights and 0-2 on Thursday nights.
I continue to be proud of my defensive play. The move to shortstop and the new shoes are working out. … Like a lot of our guys tonight, I misplayed a couple balls in the first inning that I should have had, but I pulled it together and fielded several ground balls the rest of the night. After a good second inning, the guys nicknamed me “Hoover” – because I was sucking up ground balls. We put up the first out in the second on a ground ball hit to my right; I fielded it near the edge of the infield and threw to first base on my back knee, and our 6-foot-tall first baseman pulled off a top-notch stretch to catch the ball while keeping his foot on the bag. Then I got the third out of the inning by fielding a ground ball cleanly and tossing it to second for a force out.
I caught several fly balls, too, which I’d shag all night if I had to choose ground balls or fly balls. In our opponent’s final at-bats, with two outs and runners stationed on the bases and them threatening to increase their lead, the batter hit a bloop down the third base line. The ball was over the third baseman’s head enough that he wouldn't get to it and shallow enough that the left fielder wouldn’t get to it, but I tracked it all the way and chased it down at the foul line. It was clutch.
Any true baseball – or in this case softball – fan knows we’re an extremely superstitious breed. In our minds, the right pair of socks or the way we step onto the field can determine a good night or a bad night.
Last Thursday night, I credited my new shoes. Tonight, I credit my hat position for my good defensive play. … During the first inning I had my hat pulled low over my forehead, partly to block out the setting sun, which was creating some wicked glare and shadows down the third base line. But when I came out for the second inning, I nudged my hat up and tilted the bill upward instead of covering my forehead. It worked, because I played well from then on.
Now I need to figure out the trick to finding my batting stroke, which hasn’t been great thus far in the season. I was 1-for-4 tonight with a flyout to right in my first at-bat and a liner out to the shortstop in my second turn. Finally, I swatted a solid line drive to left field during my third at-bat for a clean single before hitting the grounder to third in my fourth and final at-bat.
I know I can do better. … Maybe I should try wearing my hat backward during at-bats.