Saturday was Erin's softball team's grand and highly anticipated season opening game. I think I mentioned that her team is the Sharks, and these particular Sharks are purple, in case you were wondering.
I gotta say that at practice a couple of days before the game (their third practice so far), I really noticed quite an improvement in the kids' skills already. They were throwing and actually getting some distance much of the time, and hitting the ball solidly off the tee rather than knocking the tee over with their bats and having the ball just roll off. They seemed to grasp, kinda, what the game was about and no one ran the bases with the bat in hand nor headed for third base after hitting anymore. This was quite a transformation in such a short period of time.
We had team pictures first thing in the morning and Erin was all clean and shiny and all smiles in her new uniform (she is #7 by the way), though she doesn't like the cleats. I already described the trend, unbeknownst to me sometime over the past 20 years to move away from "boring" brown baseball mitts, but cleats are still just black and white. And black, as Erin informed me, is really not her color.
A bit before game time we arrived at the field so the team could get some warm-up and pep talk time in, and as all that was going on I glanced at the opposing team as they warmed up. We had an apparent oceanic-themed home opener of the Sharks versus the Dolphins and as one might expect, the Dolphins certainly looked more highly evolved.
They were big--really big. In fact, I couldn't believe that these girls were in our girls' division. Another parent informed me that in our division, intended for 5 and 6 year-olds, you actually can enroll any girl from 4 to 7 years. And this team looked like it was, somehow, stacked with 7 year-olds who, when out in the field, were all facing the batter. Gloves open and in position. Alert, attentive, ready to catch a fly ball. Not a one using their glove for a hat. I thought our girls were going to get creamed.
"Oh, there's no chance of that," I was informed.
"Nope. They don't keep score in this division."
Then the game got underway and several things became clear immediately:
1. These tall Dolphins, with their larger cerebral cortexes and sophisticated chatter, didn't have any more experience playing softball than our team did.
2. The coach needs to explain the difference between softball and rugby at practice in the near future, because when our team takes the field and the ball is hit they all try to pile on top of the ball and sometimes each other in a contest for it.
3. I'm not sure any reader of this blog will be able to appreciate the true hilarity of watching this game, but here is some of what I captured on video. First, Erin's team in the field, then Erin at bat:
John, who hadn't been to Erin's practices, was giggling all throughout at the mayhem. Allison and Kate were very pleased to see their big sister in such a serious endeavor and they enthusiastically clapped and cheered for her.
Despite themselves, our little toothless Sharks did manage one really, genuinely, solid play. The other team was batting and the Sharks got the ball to first base and tagged the runner out in a surprisingly sudden burst of coordination and cooperation.
And so the Sharks emerged victorious that afternoon. Or at least it seemed like they might have, as far as anybody could tell. Or whatever.