Well, Southern Force 16-and-under did not make it to the championship game to win second as they did last year at the nationals. Instead, after victoriously fighting through ten games in the losers’ bracket, they suffered a devastating defeat by the Saint Louis Chaos, who pulled out 5-0 early in the game. Chaos was exhausted but exhilarated by their win over the California Batbusters in a l0-inning game.
Showing their mettle, Southern Force brought that lopsided score up to 5-3 before their seventh-inning final opportunity disappeared. Every fine hit went straight into the hands of a Chaos player. Even though I am not really a sports fan, I admit there were tears under my dark glasses that I was glad people could not see. I reminded some of our players that they must remember that they had just proved they were among the best in the nation. Yet the loss of going on to another game closer to the championship was too fresh for any comment to comfort them.
Still downcast, they obediently lined up for the presentation of the fourth-place trophy and photo op for parents and official photographer. Then, however, the sweet and sincere words of the Amateur Softball Association official forced them to recognize what they had done as they fought through the searing heat playing game after game with little more than time for swallowing an ibuprofen for the injuries of the previous game. By the time the trophy was awarded, the smiles to cover their disappointment had returned. My pride in my granddaughters Tara’s and Erin’s coaching and in every one of the girls including my granddaughter Geri Ann made a few more tears form behind my dark glasses.
Those sweet words were just some of the sounds we have been inundated with at Henderson and Owensboro this week. There was much to see including one young man’s short bright green hair marked to make his head look just like a softball. Besides the terrible heat and the sweat in the eyes, there was much to feel including lots of hugs and pats of encouragement. But it was the sounds of softball that permeated the environment. Uproarious screaming and hollering when something good happened in a tight game. Gasps in unison when something bad happened. Sometimes hooting and choreographed stomping on bleachers. Or in-rhythm hand clapping by organized fans. Sometime sing song chants common to many girls’ teams. Good call, Blue. Terrible call, Blue!
But mostly commands and encouragement to players. There you go! Atta baby! Come on, Niner! Batter up! Get dirty, Infield! Let’s go, Come on now. Get some runs! Jump on them right here now!
In the large tent by the refreshment stand, a huge outdoor fan rumbled as it cooled off the lucky ones right in front of it lunching on softball fare. Behind our bleachers once the loud clear voice of some coach called out quiz questions to his team. Evidently he was entertaining them to keep them resting until their next game began. “What’s the name of the state park we passed in Henderson?” he asked, and he bragged on the girl who knew the answer: John James Audubon State Park. Without turning my head, I listened to his questions and their answers until our game drew my attention away.
Nice job, Danielle. Good eye. Right here now. Quick! Good hit, G! Nice job, Brit! Let’s get her. Great catch, Lauren! Whatta you say now? Way to go, Kaley! Way to lay off! Good job. Great hustle, Jany! Atta Girl! Way to battle, Mary Kate!Good spot. Nice and low. Challenge her, Kellie! Good one, Ellen! Straighten it out, Babe! You’ve got it. We’ve got two down now, Mel! Here we go, Six! Whatta you say, Kid? Swing hard! Right here, Kid! Good cut!
Often in the moment’s excitement, remarks were repeated in staccato: Say you can! Say you can! I got it! I got it! You can do it. You can do it. Gotta wait on it! Gotta wait on it! Two down. Two down. Nuthin’ high! Nuthin’ high! Keep it in. Keep it in. Swing hard. Swing hard. Say you can. Say you can. No high stuff, Kid. No high stuff!
Not to be forgotten by this great grandmother were the words of two-year-old Aidan as he stood outside the dugout once saying to each player, “Good job, Mel!” “Good job, G!” Of course, we can’t forget his more plaintive question: “Is it over? Is it over?” Fortunately his grandmother Vickie was always quick to find a diversion that would make him happy, such as, : “Let’s go find Grandpa.”
Other times Great Grandpa Gerald would help by saying, “Let’s go play under the trees.” There Aidan and his new truck would soon collect big kids for him to learn from, and sometimes only K. J. had the ability to lure him back to the sounds of the ball park.
These are all good memories to keep and warm our hearts as Tara and Aidan headed back to northern Illinois; Gerry, Vickie, and Geri Ann move on to Georgia; and Erin, who rode back with us, picked up her vehicle from Woodsong to go back to Johnston City and start packing for her return to Texas A&M next weekend. The sounds of parting have drowned out the sounds of summer softball.
Causes Sue Glasco Supports