As I stood on third base, the butterflies started to flutter in my stomach.
No outs. Bases were loaded, and the game was scoreless.
I knew the first Alumni vs. Varsity FPC Softball Game was going to be intense. We were here to raise money for the program, but of course, we were also here to win. Our team carried 12 girls ranging in age from 22 to 30. We held six district championships among us. We had a girl represented from every team in FPC history that went to state playoffs.
Coach Mike Sokol leaned over to me. “Are you fast?” he asked.
I knew exactly what he was thinking. Suicide squeeze. We were ready to play. Ready to show the young’uns a little bit about the game.
But then I remembered I’m not one of the young’uns anymore. I reminded the coach of my partially torn ACL, and the plan was off.
But then an opportunity came.
Out of pure instinct, I headed for home and dove headfirst (something the high school girls are told never to do, but I knew I needed to slide, and I was thought I might hurt my knee sliding feet first). It was a split-second decision.
I felt the tag as I slid across the plate. It was a close play, but I was out.
As I got up and dusted the clay off my no-longer-white Alumni Game shirt, the girls in the dugout applauded me for my gutsy attempt to put a run on the board. From there, all I could do was watch.
Two more pitches. Two more balls. A walk.
Had I only been patient enough, I would have walked in as the first run of the game.
But the next batter was selective, as we had always been taught, and drew another walk. A run walked in. Score one for the alumni team.
Fast forward to the seventh inning, and I was pitching in relief. I was feeling good. I took my sign: curveball. My favorite. One of my only spins that still worked after years of not pitching. As I planted my left foot, I felt my knee snap, and it felt like I went flying though the air. In reality, I kind of just fell over.
I was afraid to get up because I remembered the last time I hurt my knee.
When I looked up, there was a circle of my teammates around me, and all I could do was laugh. Seriously, I had to be the one to get hurt. And not my already injured knee — it was my so-called good knee.
I got up and hobbled off the field, upset with myself for getting hurt. I was one of the youngest alumni playing and the only one who had to come out of the game.
Going into the ninth inning, the alumni Bulldogs were down 7-4. But not for long.
Thanks to a few walks and a couple clutch base hits, we came from behind and tied the game. We held the varsity Bulldogs on the field and ended the ninth inning even at seven runs each.
The game was only slated for nine innings, so it was time to discuss a tiebreaker.
The varsity girls raced onto the field, eager for a chance to beat the “old ladies” once and for all.
But after nine innings, we were hungry, tired and down a pitcher. We decided that if we leave it at a tie, we would have some unfinished business for next year.
No doubt the high school girls were upset because they wanted to prove they could beat us. But as alumni, we did our jobs, and we proved to ourselves that with only three practices we could still hang with the high school girls who play everyday.
It may not have been the glory days, but it’s something we hope to return back to year after year.
Maybe for the 2011 game we will get Icy Hot and Advil to sponsor us.