For those of you who know me, you know I’m pretty active in the summer with softball. In fact, it’s been a massive part of my summers for 25 years now. Of those years, all but one has been spent running at least one team.
I’ve played in several leagues and tournaments at all levels. I’ve played modified pitch (mainly) and slow pitch. I’ve also won championships and had my softball heart broke more than one time.
There were summers where I played nearly 100 games or so, and others where I didn’t even reach 20.
But it’s always been a part of my summers.
Coming into this season, I thought it was going to be it. Being 40 makes it harder to do things like this. I can still play some and I have started pitching a little, so there’s time to stay in the game. But the time it takes makes it harder and harder.
Still, this season is one of those that make you want to come back for more.
I’m also way mellower than I have ever been. Don’t get me wrong, in the 2-2 1/2 hours on the field, I want to win and compete. But when it’s all said and done, I want to smile, know I played the game hard and go have a cold one or hang out with friends.
Winning doesn’t suck, however.
Winning also makes you want to keep coming back. We came pretty close to a perfect season. We lost the opening game of the finals – our first loss of the season – and came storming back to win the next two to complete an 18-1 season and win the championship – our third in that league (well, to be fair, it’s kind of a different league now … but same place).
The funny part is how some from the other team actually said to some of our guys that they were better than us and should have won (we beat them in the series this year, 4-1, and outscored them 82-31 in those games, including 37-13 in the three-game finals series), despite the numbers proving otherwise. That being said, the finals were pretty exciting, though long breaks and such were pretty key in us all of a sudden not hitting as we had (I think, in the full series, we left the bases loaded at least 5-6 times, several times having them loaded with one out), but we played solid in the field and earned the title.
I also played three games in another league (and wasn’t eligible for the playoffs), but that team won the championship – also losing but once game.
The season ended with a trip to nationals with mixed team. Despite not reaching our goal (winning a game), it was an interesting experience and the first time I’ve been to nationals in several years.
Personally, I had one of the best hitting seasons I’ve had in a long time. I pitched a few games, but need to pitch more if I’m ever going to be regular at it. The funny part is I had the second lowest batting average on my team – at .419. We hit .502 as a team. That’s pretty crazy!
In the end, it was a truly fun season. The regular season went decent, and despite the playoffs dragging on way too long, the end result was worth the wait.
Initially, my thought was to move to the over-35 league next year. That’s out the window. I’m into it again. I’d love to play more. Maybe hit a few tournaments. States. Nationals. A league and do well again … why not? Who knows how many years I can do this, so I may as well stick it out.
For years, I always did the “right thing” as the manager and took a seat when we had extras. This year, I decided to play more, especially hitting. I’m glad I did as it gave me the drive to continue playing this game.
At least for as long as my body allows.
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