“The ball was coming straight towards me. ‘STRIKE ONE!’ Carter shouted.”
“I can do it!” I said to myself. “I can do it!”
The ball was coming straight towards me. “STRIKE ONE!” Carter shouted.
“You can do this,” I mumbled to myself. The ball was coming towards me from high.
“STRIKE TWO!” Carter yelled. I breathed in and out. The pitcher was getting ready to throw. I got this. Fling! The ball was at full speed.
“STRIKE THREE, YOU’RE OUT!” Carter hollered.
“Maybe next season,” Coach told me.
“Maybe next season,” I said to myself.
I walked home with confidence. Mom opened the door for me.
“We’ll be having lasagna and spinach. Okay, sweetie?”
“Alright, Mom. That’s fine with me,” I answered. I went upstairs to my room to change into my inside clothes. I came back downstairs to eat dinner with Mom. My older brother was at sleepaway camp, and my dad was running late.
“So how was baseball, Riley?” Mom asked.
“It was okay I guess.”
“Sorry I couldn’t be there.”
“No. It’s okay, Mom,” I said. “Nothing much happened.”
I was not that kind of person who threw a fit over things, that was more like my older brother. I swallowed down my food and heated up some milk for Mom and me. I took my milk up to my room and started to write in my diary. Next season I’m gonna win that trophy. I closed my diary and gulped down my milk. I went under my sheets feeling proud that I tried.
I started to feel Dad waking me up. “What is it?” I said, annoyed.
“Mom signed you up for extra baseball practice, didn’t she?”
“Okay then, wake up!”
I hopped out of bed to the morning sunshine. I did my morning routine and grabbed my cap, my bat, my mitt, and my water bottle. Mom passed me my lunch, and then I headed out. I met Coach at the field and shook his hand.
“You ready for some b-ball, ol’ youngster?” Coach asked.
“Isn’t that for basketball, Coach?” I questioned.
“No, silly goose. I meant baseball!”
“Oh. Okay. I was a little confused there for a second.”
“Alrighty then, let’s start.”
Coach was telling me about my positioning and my focus. I was pretty sure it was my focus that was taking me off track during the game. Maybe now too. It was rush hour, and the road that was closest to the field was a one-way road, which I thought was really stupid. Traffic piled up there the most. All the honking and yelling was making me lose my focus. I breathed in and out, in and out. I tried to bring as much focus as I could, but it was useless. I didn’t holler, I didn’t scream… I just closed my eyes and imagined me winning that trophy. A dream come true.
I closed my eyes and ignored everything around me. Swing. Hit. Run.
Coach threw the ball. “I hit it!” I shouted to Coach. “I hit it!”
Coach was clapping so hard, his hands were turning red. Coach ran for the ball that I hit and tried to throw it at me, but he missed. There was a rumor that I was the fastest kid in the school. I was so fast that the second that he threw it, I was already at homebase. I was crying tears of joy. I did it. For the first time. I did it. Practice was over, and the traffic died down. I drank some of my water and looked up to see the beautiful sunset. I drank some more water and skipped the rest of the way home, excited for the next season. I was going to win that trophy. I came back home, and I noticed that I didn’t eat my lunch. I decided to eat it later, I was too excited to eat now. I had to tell Mom the good news.
“Mom, guess what?”
“What is it, sweetie?”
“Oh, nothing. Maybe just that I made my first swing!”
“I’m gonna go to the grocery, okay? I need to get supplies.We’re having pizza.”
I went up to my room and stepped over the piles of dirty clothes. I flopped on my bed and sighed in relief that I did it.
A few months flew by.
Ring ring. My alarm was going off. I just remembered that it was time for the championships for baseball. I got ready as fast as I could. My team was a mix of boys and girls. I alternated spots, so sometimes I was a pitcher, sometimes I was an umpire, and sometimes I was a batter. Mom and Dad still couldn’t be there for the game, but my friend’s dad was videotaping. I grabbed my lunch, and Dad dropped me off.
“Okay, Riley. Break a leg,” Dad shouted.
“Bye,” I shouted back.
I entered the stadium, and Coach was there with the rest of the team.
Everyone was here. The game was about to start. We named jobs quickly. I was batter. Alexander would be a pitcher in the next game and so on.
The game started.
I was in front of a kid from another team. They named their team after a brand for popcorn. Boom Chicka Pop. I always thought that was a funny name, but I did like that brand of popcorn. The umpire was kind of like a referee. He had to yell really loud because the field was big, and everyone needed to hear him. My ears were ringing, and I was starting to get a headache. I couldn’t focus. Everything seemed so dizzy and shaky. I felt like I was going to topple over. When someone from the other team threw the ball, it looked like it was spinning in all sorts of directions. I still couldn’t see straight. I missed the ball, and the umpire caught it. Dammit. It was kind of funny. No one got mad at me. They said, “You got this. Maybe next time, Riley.” That made me feel really good.
My team didn’t win, but I still felt good that we tried, that we tried hard enough to feel good about it. There was a celebration after the game. Everyone went to the park and had a barbeque. I didn’t want to eat anything, I just sat in my fold-out chair knowing that I didn’t have to win the trophy. I won everything I needed. Family and friends.