Monday evening. I stood in damp grass, warm sun. I looked down at my feet and what was probably some dog’s leavings that no owner thought to pick up. I looked to the infield. Bugs began their springtime flutter around my face. I bent my knees and waved my gloved hand around, trying to get them to leave me alone. “Hmmm…” I thought to myself, “now I remember why I don’t like playing softball.”
Honestly, the part I like the best is playing catch. Tossing the ball to James, surprising him when it suddenly floats without warning over his head and out of his reach. Surprising myself, too, with my accuracy, my fearless catching of his throws. My arm aches a little the next day, but it’s good.
Standing in right field, I know that my only chance to get any action is when the lefty goes up to bat. So I back away, because he’s a hard hitter, and tense up with each pitch. Finally, it’s hit. Hit right to me. And I run, I pick it up from the ground, stop it in its tracks, but then comes the part that I really hate. I’m so far away from the infield at this point that the only choices are either to run like hell or throw in with all my might. If I run, the batter keeps running, too. If I throw, the ball will never make it in time, since the second baseman has to run out to meet it. There was a guy playing center field, with an arm like a machine, and he said, “Next time, just flip it to me, and I’ll throw it in.” So that’s what I did. And I think we managed to stop the runner at first base that way.
I just hope that when it comes time to actually play in a mildly competitive way, whoever’s out there in the field next to me has an arm like that guy at practice. Otherwise, with the girl who can’t catch playing first base, and the girl who can’t throw (me) playing outfield, we’re probably doomed. Especially if the two other girls that must be on the field at all times (since this is a coed league and it would not be fair otherwise) have similar weaknesses.
The time I spent in the outfield on Monday reminded me of the South Park episode where the boys are in the Little League playoffs, and all they want is to lose a game so that the season will end and they won’t have to play baseball anymore. Maybe it would be different if I could play catcher. I’d definitely get more action at home plate than scuffing my feet in the grass of the outfield. And anyway, it’s the throwing and the catching that I like the most. Though I could probably do without the crouching required of that position.