Sunday, March 31, 2013

Play Ball!

Holy moly, if it isn't baseball season again already! Truth be told, I hardly had a chance to miss it with the San Francisco Giants playing all the way through October again. They don't start their regular season until tomorrow, but that doesn't mean that I'm not blessed with my full complement of softball and baseball games and practices.

This weekend started with Smunch's first "real" baseball game...inasmuch as it was the first one that would count in the season standings. Smunch is now playing for the PONY Bronco divison Giants (as opposed to the San Francisco Giants.) While he looks mighty spiffy in his new uniform...
he is also the smallest player on the far. The kid next to him, in the catcher gear isn't exactly a monster either, but Smunch is noticeably smaller in real life. 
At the game, a mom I'd never met before asked me if the really big kid in the photo was my kid. I laughed and said "No, the little one is mine." "Oh, Smunch?" she said. "He's my favorite! He's not very big, but he sure can play baseball." She's my new best friend.

Smunch was supposed to pitch during the third inning, so I was hoping they'd get there before Mam and I had to hightail it out of there to her softball game. The game was going a little slowly. I only had about an hour and 15 minutes to stick around. 

Although one of the Giants hit a home run (the biggest one in that picture, two to the left of Smunch), which is a feat I may have to get used to, the game was tied, the the bases were loaded and the Mets were up, with only one out. The coach intended to use the first pitcher for two innings, but he decided he'd better get someone new in there and he called his diminutive center fielder in to the mound for relief.
Yes. In case you're wondering. You do get to be #1 when you're the shortest. Smunch is not fond of this number. He's probably an entire foot shorter than the kid he replaced.

And there he was, this tiny little 11-year-old, who promptly induced a weak grounder for the second out and struck out the next batter. Mission accomplished.

I got to stick around for the third inning too. Smunch trotted right back out to the mound, faced three batters, got the first on a pop fly, the second flew out and the third struck out. It's weird...and undeniably cool that these boys are finally old enough to field plays cleanly and support their pitchers. They look awesome...sometimes.
That's one happy pitcher! And the last batter was a kid he's played with before, one of the best kids from his previous division. You can bet he was proud of himself! 

And I was so proud of him that I prattled on and on about it as I drove Mam to her game. I couldn't see her back there, but I imagine she was rolling her eyes at me. That would be like her.
She's not really all attitude. Really. She didn't say a word about my pride in her brother. She just made sure I was going to be equally proud of her when the day was done. 

8U girl's fastpitch softball almost couldn't be more different from 11 to 13-year-old boys' baseball. A few of the girls can pitch. A few of the girls (not necessarily the same girls) can throw. A few can hit the ball. Very few can catch a ball if a miracle occurs and they get a decent throw in their direction. The boys were just like this at their age, I should add.

On Saturday, Mam didn't get to pitch and she didn't get many fielding opportunities since the girls on the Killer Penguins didn't hit a lot of balls her direction. She did make a nice play at first base to get an out with the aid of a teammate...who not only came in to cover first base (which Mam was playing) from right field, but caught the ball Mam threw to her. 

But really, Mam's greatest chance to make a difference came when she was up to bat. The first time she was up, two girls were already on base and she hit a hard grounder into the outfield. The outfield is a little like outer space to some of these girls. It got past all of them. So, there Mam stood, on second base, having hit the ball hard enough that both her teammates scored. The next girl struck out and the inning was over. 
It was a long time before Mam made it to bat again and by then the Vipers were down 6-3. It was the third inning. They only play four.

The bases were loaded when Mam took her place at the plate. And she smacked the ball again. Again the ball got past the outfielders (who play on the edge of the infield anyway) and again Mam had cleared the bases of everyone but herself. And once a team scores three runs, the inning is over. So, Mam shut the inning down That's kind of like her, now that I think about it. 

Neither team scored in the fourth and the game ended in a 6-6 tie. Mam had driven five of the Vipers' 6 runs herself 8 RBIs in the 4 games her team has played so far. They are still undefeated at 2-0-2.

Turns out that over at the baseball diamond, Smunch had also driven in the tying run. That was before their homerun hitter smashed a grand slam and then took the mound and struck out seven in three innings, locking up the Giants' first win of the season (14-8) in the first game that counted.

It was a good day and when the games were over, it was time to think about Easter...

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