There we were, standing in the dugout. The hot West Texas sun was beating down on our pale, sun-burn prone skin. There was no shade on our side of the field, but that was OK. It was the first softball game of the season and we were just excited to be there. Of course, by “we” I’m referring to myself, the other coach and the six girls who were wondering if we would have enough people to field a team.
Eventually, two more girls showed up and we knew, by rule, we were allowed to play with eight. Our young warriors warmed up on the sideline as Jackson and I penciled in a lineup and batting order.
This was it … the moment of truth. If you have never experienced 9 and 10-year-old girls softball, then you haven’t … well, I’d like to say that you haven’t lived, but that would just be blatantly incorrect. What I should say is that if you haven’t experienced 9 and 10-year-old girls softball, then you haven’t experienced 9 and 10-year-old girls softball, because quite frankly, there is nothing else like it.
The fact that I’m helping coach this team is amazing in and of itself. But then again, Jackson needed someone who knew how to keep a scorebook; something I can do in my sleep should the need ever arise. Jackson’s daughter, my niece, is on the team. He needed help coaching and apparently I was the logical choice.
For someone who generally hides when there are large or small groups of children around, coaching youth league softball isn’t exactly a dream come true. However, since it is sports related, I have been able to tolerate it so far. The kids aren’t that bad and if you can keep them busy doing stuff, they don’t really have time to annoy you. I can definitely think of worse things to do.
Anyway, the game was nothing spectacular. In fact, it was anything but. If you play pitcher or catcher in this league you see a lot of action. If you play anywhere else, you can use the time to finish your homework, check your email on your palm pilot, talk on your cell phone or brush up on your psyche-out chants if you don't feel like lugging your electronic equipment onto the field with you. This is apparently why you hear singing and chanting coming from the dugouts of high school softball teams. All those girls must have played youth league softball where they never had anything else to do.
As a sports reporter, I once talked to a high school softball player and applauded her and her teammates for not being like every other team in the state which found it necessary to rattle off those annoying sing-songy chants throughout the entire game. She agreed, thinking it was kind of stupid.
At her next game, however, the team decided to start chanting. I was sitting near the dugout taking pictures and keeping a score book. When I heard the sudden noise I looked over at her, giving her one of those “what-the-heck” kind of looks. To her credit she was not taking part in the singing. She returned my gaze then promptly turned around and told her teammates to stop it because it was embarrassing. I had to like that girl.
At our Tuesday evening game, however, our young kids had nothing better to do since the game really didn’t involve them. They worked on their songs and chants while watching the grass grow in the outfield. The pitcher and catcher tossed the ball back and forth in a failed attempt to get the other team out.
All-in-all it was a stunning tale of inadequacy as the two teams combined to score 17 runs on 2 hits in two innings of play. The game was called when the time limit expired.
That’s right, 17 runs (we lost 9-8) on 2 hits. There were a grand total of 27 bases on balls issued. Neither team managed to get three outs in any particular inning. Due to league rules you are only allowed a certain number of batters per inning. When that number had batted, the inning was over.
To our credit, our team got both hits. And our pitcher did manage to strike out a couple of batters in the second inning, but walking 27 batters doesn’t make for exciting softball.
Needless to say, at practice today, our girls are going to work on pitching.