I didn't always love playing-like the time in 3rd grade when Daisy and Reagan, the two girls who made grades 1-6 hell for me, teased me so much that I started to cry right on the field. Or when, in 7th grade the boy that I was in love with came to watch the game-not for me, but for my friend who later got to kiss him.
For the most part though, I eagerly looked forward to softball season. I played from grade 3 to grade 12 and regret not playing in college. I made the team, but opted instead for parties and my boyfriend.
Being a girl who always hovered just beyond the edge of popularity, softball season made me a star. In 8th grade my coach was comparing me to a girl named Jen who was THE star athlete at the high school. By my freshman year, the varsity coach already new my name and another girl Lisa's name. We were quickly brought up to play with the big girls, and would later be co-captains our senior year.
I loved everything about softball-the way the spring air smelled whipping around my face delivered on the freshest and coldest breezes and the smell of the earth thawing, preparing itself it bloom once again in it's awe insprining beauty and cool, damp grass we sat on while doing our stretches. I loved the sting I felt in my left hand after catching a rocket that Lisa just threw me from short stop, the strain of the muscles in my long legs as I stretched to reach an impossibly short throw. (I was nicknamed "Stretch" b/c I was kinda famous for it...even in local papers!)
But most of all, I loved the way the bat felt when it hit the ball. A clean, direct hit that found every hole on the field-there is nothing like it. It is exhilarating and empowering and yes, even fun. And that sound-the crack of the bat is pure perfection. To this day, whenever I hear that sound, I can feel my hands vibrating, my heart racing and it takes me right back to our field near the apple orchard, in small town Connecticut.
I always wanted my little sisters to play so that I could go to their games and cheer them on like they were made to do for me. (My mom only missed 2 games my entire softball career-9 years!) Alas, the didn't, and now, my only hope is Rye Bread. I'm priming her early though-and she rocks at wiffle ball. :)