Sunday, April 29, 2007

I can die a happy man

This is not Mariner related in any way, by the way.

Yesterday, a baseball team won its game 10-9. The author of the winning hit? My 7 year old daughter.

She is not the best player on the team by any means. She is not the strongest, or the fastest, and she is actually one of the smallest. But she has a high "Baseball IQ," natch, and she is solid in every phase of the game. She runs pretty well, she hits pretty well, she is pretty solid in the field, and when she is not distracted by the other teams chants or the patterns she makes in the dirt with her toe, she is slightly above average in terms of her focus. She is, if you will, the Mark McLemore of the Mill Creek Little League Purple Stallions.

So Saturday, she steps to the plate in a 9-9 tie, bases loaded, two outs. She, and the rest of the girls, are blissfully unaware of the situation, but all of the parents are. "No pressure," one of the other dads teases me.

They get 7 coach thrown pitches, no balls, no strikes, just 7 pitches to put something in play. Our pitcher (one of the moms) does a great job, but she sometimes has problems getting the ball down for the smaller girls. After 5 pitches Katie has only had one pitch that she could handle, which she fouled hard up the third base line. Just two pitches left. I am visibly pacing and sweating on the sidelines.

Pitch 6 is perfect, right in her zone, and she raps it hard towards the hole between first and second. Out of almost nowhere, the opposing pitcher reaches out and knocks it down! She picks it up tosses it towards first. The first sacker is way off the bag at this point though, because she was probably going to field the ball if the pitcher hadn't improbably made the play!

The throw is bobbled slightly and by the time it is picked up, the first baseman is facing the bag, maybe two or three steps closer to it than Katie. But she is at a standing start and Katie has a full head of steam going. I try and pick one thing before each game for Katie to focus on and no lie, this week our focus point was run hard all the way through first base. In prior games she (and most of the girls) has had a tendency to pull up as she reached the bag.

But not this day! My little girl lunges hard at the bag, beating the first baseman by a good half a step, and hurtling past 5 or 6 steps. Just like we talked about! She listened!!

The runner from third crosses the plate. The parents go wild. Again, Katie is unaware of the whole situation, but she is fully aware that everyone is cheering for her and that she just barely beat that one out. Her grin is as big as I have ever seen it. It is an amazing, amazing moment and I am not sure how it can be topped.

I hope that she continues to play sports, that they continue to bring both of us much joy for many, many years. But now, right now? I am as happy as one parent can be.


At 8:17 PM, Blogger Kevin said...



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