Those spring practices when the sun was out and I could just smell summer approaching. That's what spring does to you. The bright snow starts to wither away by the suns raging waves, then slowly everything in nature starts to come back to life. It makes me want to immediately go outside and embrace the changing scenery. These little changes could be seen by many, but only a few appreciate them. I looked forward to appreciating these occurrences during softball. Spring is so lovely and light. Softball my junior year, however, not so lovely and light.
Softball is a dirty sport, it takes courage to leap from base to base not sure if the player covering the base is going to tap that runner out or not, and if it's close, both players have to get down and dirty with the ground. Sliding was my favorite thing to do during softball. I was always a fast runner and base running was super exciting to me. On defense, I played center field out in nowhere's land. I was great at it. Playing junior varsity, I was a star player. Now, I am talking I caught every ball that no one thought anyone could catch. Parents, coaches, everyone was impressed with me, except the varsity coach.
It was junior year for me. The year before, I had been moved up to varsity for the tournament (our school team was not good, we never make it out). So sure enough, I get put on varsity junior year. Practices went smooth, I fit right in with everyone else. The only time I became different was when we were batting. I was small, I was strong enough to lift myself because I tumbled for cheerleading.
But, I was not told to hit, I was a bunter. Bunting was super easy for me, it was effective for me because I ran so fast. I was even told to start practicing the drag bunt so I could be even better of a player. A drag bunt is a batting style taken from the right side of the plate, swinging lefty. The player would prepare to hit normally, making everyone think that the player is just a lefty. Then the bat would drop so the player could grab closer to the actual batting part of the bat and just coddle the ball so it moves forward, but not right to the pitcher.
After that, obviously, the batter would drop the bat and run for their lives to first base. I did pretty well with the new skill. Little did I know that this new skill that I will practice every day for the rest of the new season would never go to good use.
When it starting to come to games, I was ready. Considering that I was a junior at the time, I did not expect to start. But I knew myself, and I was a great outfielder, minimum I expected was being put in twice. Here's what everyone needs to know, softball consists of the most drama ever, even more than most cheer years. Now that says a lot. I would say while the drama caused in both sports could be from the same humans, softball is different because of the coaching and some stupid ghostly rules that are nonexistent but still followed by the participating students. Now, why is that you ask? People had to follow these rules or else they were faced with the disapproving coach.
The first thing completely wrong with my softball experience is the reliance of the last name to the sport. My hometown was and still is guilty of this and it is completely the reason everyone quits and hates high school sports! Softball was no doubt at fault for this. Being the first child, I was at a loss. I knew my abilities and proved it over and over playing JV, but was never given a chance on varsity. Instead of giving me a chance during games that we weren't going to win anyway, I sat the bench. Never getting played got old, but I was given a few opportunities to base run. Eventually, halfway down the season, the coach told a few of us varsity benchies to play some JV so we can "get some playing time."
Hmmmmm instead of just playing us during the varsity game, the team we are supposed to be on and actually subbing for a change, we were told to go down and help.
Did I get angry? I'm not going to lie, I did get a little pissed, but I was happy to go back to my last year's coach on JV. While playing on JV, I started every game, never got switched out, and continually played great games. I was basically acting like those varsity players, the difference was, though, that I actually could catch a ball. Too bad the varsity coach never came down to see me or any of the other girls that got brought down to play, but if that would have happened, they would have felt guilty for benching me.
The second thing wrong was the constant hate on natural body parts. Softball consists of girls, and girls have boobs. Shocker! So, I think that it is completely wrong to hate on a player just because they wore a cut-off lower than their sports bras (this was not as huge as an issue as I was told about the year after, but it did happen my junior year as well). I never was a problem in this area, but it still makes me angry. Not only was it unjust, but the reason behind it is also even more unjust. The whole cut-off problem was because of lesbians. Just that fact that softball can have lesbians playing and the coach didn't want any distractions.
I really hope that the coach changes her feelings towards her own players because if not, I am afraid the whole team will dwindle down to none.
During my JV experience, I had gotten compliments from another town's coach, asking my own JV coach why I wasn't a starter for Varsity. Like I have said earlier, I was a center outfielder, and during that game, I had once again (yes, I said once again) caught a really tough ball hit to outfield. I remember this because I was the proudest I had ever been towards myself. Other times, a ball would fly out in my area but not close, and I would run super fast and catch it before hitting the ground. This time, the other player hit the ball almost to the fence when I was standing closer to second base because of the runner on the first base. I darted backward in the direction the ball was taking, not even acknowledging where the actual ball was, I finally looked up to map it and leaped even more back towards the ball. I caught the ball, did a summersault to not hit my head, and landed on my back. I swear there was a slight second of silence and I raised my glove showing the ball snugged inside the glove. Right after that, I got up and chucked it at first base. Everyone was so proud of me.
Another instance did come up less than a year later. I had just injured myself tumbling my senior year of cheer. I walked into the school's office to get something I believe and the athletic director started to make conversation about my swollen wrist. I told him I'm was going to try and tumble literally the next weekend after the incident. He told me that I better be careful and take time to heal my wrist so I don't injure it more for next season.
At first, I didn't understand what he meant because I already knew I was not playing softball. I politely told him I was taking the season off because I did not get the playing time I deserved. He looked at me with empathy and told me he remembered a great catch I made during a game my junior year (not the one talked about previously). He explained to me that he watched one of the JV games and witnessed me run almost into the fence to catch a fly ball, and successfully did might I add. He said my defense was wonderful and it was a shame that the coach never saw it.
I thought I had the potential to play college ball, but my high school coach never gave me the opportunity to show my worth and produce for the scouts. Also, there are too many people today that can read this article and automatically know the plot before my first words are even read. This needs to be changed or else more high schoolers will be driven to other things than physical activities and sports teams with dwindle down to nothing!
No wonder my high school was having difficulty getting players to come out participate to fill two softball teams.
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