It’s that time of year again … youth softball season. Once again, I let my brother-in-law rope me into helping him with an 8-10 year-old team. This is our second shot at this coaching gig. We did fairly well for being first-timers last season, but this season may be a little different.
I can’t really put my finger on it, but there is something different about this group. I want to say we have better fielders and a stronger defense all around, but our offense is seriously lacking. This could be a problem as we played great defense in our first game, but still lost 4-1.
Things will definitely be interesting, however, as we have a very eclectic group of young ladies. Our most boisterous player is experiencing softball for the first time and couldn’t understand why a runner is not allowed to run from second base to first base when the ball is hit. Throw in the fact that she just turned 10 years old but stands only 3-foot-2 and refers to me as Coach Paddie, which only vaguely resembles my real name, and there we have one of our more interesting players. And she really is only about 3-foot-2. My 7-year-old daughter is taller than she is.
Then we have our intellectual. She will be one of my favorites on the team because she analyzes everything. When she makes a mistake in the field, she can tell you exactly what that mistake was down to the minute detail and outlines a contingency plan for approaching the situation the next time it occurs. Then she stands in the field and corrects her teammates’ grammar as they yell at each other or opposing players … not simple stuff, but obscure grammatical rules that most high school students don’t understand. Of course, she is still a girl and gets emotional when things continually don’t go as she has planned.
We also have a pink child who reminds me somewhat of my daughter, except that she is in serious need of ADD medication. She will be a decent player in the field (can’t swing a bat, although she brings her personal pink bat with her to practice and the games), if we can just get her to focus long enough to … “look at the pretty butterflies!” I call her “Pinky” all the time, but I don’t think she knows why. Everything she has is pink. Our uniforms are navy blue, but she has pink cleats, pink wristbands, a pink bat and pink batter’s helmet.
Then, of course, there is the obligatory youngster who is in need of physical activity more than the rest of the team, yet doesn’t move during practice. This could explain the growing need for physical activity. She doesn’t take instruction well and doesn’t understand the need to actually act like she is a part of the team. When she is through with batting practice, she wants to go home and can’t figure out why we make her stay. She has a lazy attitude to go with her lazy metabolism which adds up to one thing – a youngster who the coaches try to hide in right field where nothing ever happens.
And like every team, we have the one girl who is just the nicest kid and tries hard to do everything you ask her to do, but “bless her heart,” she just doesn’t have an athletic bone in her body. (Have I ever explained that you are allowed to say anything about anybody as long as you preface it with “bless her heart?”). The poor girl is just slow … and weak … and scared of the ball … and she can’t catch … or throw ... or hit … but she is a nice kid and never gives us any problems.
Needless to say, our season should be quite interesting. Maybe, just maybe, we can find a way to put the right pieces in the right places and squeak out a win or two.