Friday, March 21, 2008

Game 1 against MC recap

As promised, here is the recap of my first victory as a softball coach. Our opponent, MC, only had one victory last year and that was beating us in a close game. I was very confident we'd win.

We had some serious opening day jitters. As visitors (as we'll be for all of our games), we batted first. This was the first live pitching our girls have seen and most were quaking in their boots when they got into the batters box. In the top of the first inning, we managed 2 hits and left a girl stranded on third. In the bottom of the first, our defense was shaky and stupid. We did make the right plays at the right times and gave up 2 runs. My pitcher walked the bases loaded at one point and I had to call time to visit the mound. She was angry and frustrated, but she was able to bear down and get the next 3 batters out. After 1, we were down 0-2.

The second inning was better for us. After 2 consecutive strikeouts, my returning center fielder who lacks all plate discipline swung and CRUSHED a ball into left center. The field has no fences, so it just kept going. And so did she. It was an inside the park homerun. That immediately lifted our spirits. The next 2 girls got on, but we stranded another at third. In the bottom of the second, MC went 1-2-3.

In the 3rd, our leadoff hitter walked, stole second, third and home. The next two batters struckout. One of my "Georgetown graduates" (because she went to a G-town summer camp) walked, stole second and third, but AGAIN we left a runner at 3rd. In the bottom of the third, MC had a couple of walks and singles that scored 3. We didn't play poorly; they earned those runs. At the end of 3, we were down 5-2. It was killing me that we'd left 3 runners on third and that was the difference in the game.

In the 4th, my free-swinging center fielder hit a leadoff double. She moved to third on a passed ball. But the next two batters struck out. The next two walked. Bases loaded with 2 outs and the heart of my order up, I was feeling comfortable. Instead, the batter popped up to the 2nd baseman. More runners left on base. Luckily, my pitcher found a groove and my infield found their rhythm. We only saw 4 batters that inning. Still 5-2 going into the top of the 5th

In the 5th, my pitcher hit a bloop single. The next batter walked. Both then moved up on a passed ball. My freshman first baseman hit a single into left and scored them both. The next batter struck out. For my free-swinging center fielder, I gave the take sign and for my freshman, I gave the steal sign. My center fielder missed the sign and hit a scorching line drive at MC's first basemen. Out of self-defence she made the grab and doubled up the runner at 1st. MC's 5th inning was uneventful with 2 walks and 3 easy outs. 5-4 for MC at the end of 5.

In the 6th, my girls decided to win the game. The first three batters all had consecutive singles. The third single scored both. We were up for the first time in the game. My SS was the third hitter and she's a beast on the base paths. In the 3rd, she stole 2nd, 3rd and home. She did the same thing again this inning. Now we had a 2 run cushion. Unfortunately, the bottom of the order only made marginal contact with the ball and MC put us away. With a 2 run cushion and time running out, I felt this game was going our way. If the bottom of the inning took 12 minutes, we'd break the time limit for playing another inning. My pitcher took the rubber and got her strikes on. The first batter hit a double and stole third. The next batter hit a ground out to second, which scored the runner. We were still up by 1 run. I called time and walked out to my pitcher. I told her that it was time for her to win the game. (I've been putting all kinds of pressure on my fielders to make plays and not make the pitcher responsible for "winning" the game) She did exactly that. The next two batters went down looking. US 7. Them 6.

That was it! We won! We won! We won!....or so I thought. Unfortunately, the bottom of the inning was only 8 minutes long. Both the ump and the opposing coach wanted it to go 7.

So 7 we went. And my girls pulled out all stops! The opposing pitcher was out of gas and throwing big beach balls up there. Everyone hit! In fact, we hit around and scored 10 in that inning. It was the single highest scoring inning in my history as coach. 2 of the outs that inning were actually well hit balls. We only had 1 strikeout. It was a tremendous inning. Our spirits were high and we were sure we'd win this game. How could we not? We had 17 and they only had 6.

In the bottom of the 7th, we started off well. The first batter grounded out to first. 1 up. 1 down. The next batter got on because of a throwing error. Then the next walked. Then the next one hit a ball up the middle, scoring 2. The #4 hitter grounded back to the pitcher for out number 2, but advancing the runner to 3rd. The #5 hitter grounded the ball toward 2nd. And my 2nd baseman inexplictately ran to cover 1st, allowing the ball to roll into right field. They had just scored 3 runs, but we had 2 outs. MC's #5 hitter who had struck out 3 times before crushed the ball into center field. My pitcher walked the next 2 batters. Bases loaded. 2 outs. Still up by 8. The next batter up was the one that struck out to finish the 6th. I stupidly stupidly said, "It is so good to get the first win of the season." out loud.

She BARELY gets around on the ball and hits a base clearing double down the right field line right over the bag. That 8 run lead was down to 5. My pitcher walks the next 2 batters. Bases loaded. I call a time out and bring the infield in for a chat. I calm my pitcher down and remind my infield that they must win this game with a good play at any base. My pitcher leans back and fires a first pitch strike. The next pitch is fouled off. After a ball outside, my pitcher reaches back and fires a strike down the middle of the plate. Game over! We win. 17-12.

Next up is a team that beat us in 6 last year by the mercy rule, but we had one bad inning. I'm confident we'll compete with them, but I don't know if we'll win it. My AD did say that if we win 3 of our 7 games, he'll buys us all dinner. So that's bulletin board material and I'm using that as motivation now that we've got our first win.

Next game is April 1. Reports to follow soon after.