First off, let me preface this post by saying the title is an ode to the countless softball cheers that I’ve heard repetitively over the past 6 weeks that I might N-E-V-E-R get out of my brain. Like I wake up at 3am singing my favorite cheers until I can fall back to sleep. Or I dream them, I don’t know, all I know is that they haunt me in my dreams!
With that said, Phantom U8 Summer league has officially come to an end. We didn’t go out in the style that we all had hoped but Sporty learned so much and loved every aspect of playing against girls way better than her. Sporty’s spring league team was undefeated this past year, so she was feeling pretty good about her softball skills. And while there is no denying, she’s talented on the softball field, this travel season taught her that there are girls out there, her age, that are light years ahead of her. And well, given Sporty’s personality and desire to win and be the best at everything, fortunately, this has made her want to work harder and practice more, thus net and tee for our backyard.
I’m so proud of her for doing this league, there’s no secret there (i.e. the amount of pictures and videos, I’ve posted on Facebook and Instagram this summer). I know it’s annoying but it’s really hard for me to imagine where we were 7 1/2 months ago. 7 1/2 months ago, I would have never imagined that she would be able to play softball this competitively, she couldn’t even let her leg dangle from a chair or in her booster seat without intense pain. 7 1/2 months ago, Sporty was in excruciating pain recovering from her tendon transfer, pain that almost had me running her back to the hospital to be readmitted. She was being wheeled around school in a wheelchair. I had to push her into school in a stroller because she couldn’t use her walker to get from the parking lot to her class because it was too far and too painful. She recovered slower than we had hoped and expected, went back into her AFO due to tendon fatigue and pain. We had a detached tendon scare. But here she was, playing 4 games a weekend, most of the time 3 of those on Saturdays, against some of the best softball players in the Bay Area, all with absolutely no foot pain! It felt so good to trade casts and AFOs in for a good pair of cleats! And I need to keep reminding myself of how far we’ve come, those were dark dark days for our family following her surgery, and seeing her on the field, happy and at peace doing what she loves, well that makes those dark days a little more bearable in my soul.
And then there is the pride despite their record, they lost many games by double digits but each week they showed up fresh and ready to play. Sporty herself got out there in each tournament and pitched an inning or two. She’d walk off the field and say she did horrible (which more often than not she did) but each week she asked for more, knowing all of her teammates, their parents, and the opposing team were out there, all eyes on her as she struggled to make the ball go over the plate. That takes a lot of GUTS! Guts I never would of had.
Then there was her performance and growth. When the season started Sporty was probably in the bottom 25% of the team. She batted at the end of the order and played lots of outfield. By the last two tournaments she was in key positions and moved herself up to hit in the top 5, her last tournament she hit in the 3 or 4 spot. She found her niche as a catcher and had some near throw outs down the 3rd base line. Sporty was able to spot the runner stealing from 1st to 2nd base and try to throw her out without her coaches directing the play. She became aware of the field and situations. Sporty also played a mean 3rd base.
There were days where it was a 107 in the blazing sun, no shade on the field, some of the fields were worn down and not maintained, some were make shift AstroTurf fields, and they were losing by 10+ runs, they all could have quit, they were seeded last in most tournaments, but they ran out on the field each inning, heads held high. Those are the things I am most proud of, Sporty and her teammates held their heads up high and competed when they could have quit. And to me, that makes the weekends lost at the softball fields worth it. Life doesn’t always hand you undefeated seasons, but you need to get back up and go out there time after time and keep trying. Sporty learned that valuable lesson this summer.
I’ve posted a video and picture of Sporty getting hit by a pitch at her last at bat. We thought for sure that Sporty was going to be in tears, I could hear the thunk as it hit her shoulder from the stands and as Hubs rounded the backstop to check on her she had a huge smile on her face. After the game I noticed stitch marks on her jersey. That’s how hard it hit her. Hubs asked her how she didn’t cry. She responded, “I don’t know, I knew I was going to get hit, the pitcher didn’t adjust to me being a left handed batter, so I knew the ball was going to hit me.” Hubs asked her why she didn’t move. She responded: “I knew we were down and needed base runners to score runs so I took one for the team.” How does her brain work like that at 8!?!