Tag Archives: Little League

A 1-24 season isn’t all bad

Caswell’s Little League season ended last night with the final make-up game of the year. The Hampshire Indians lost. Not surprising. But it was a fun game to watch! And the season taught us both something.

Before last night’s game, Tyler told Cas he’d give him $10 if he got to pitch. So Cas, who’s been playing right field and batting ninth for most of the season, asked his coach if he could pitch. (Hey, we don’t want to be the sort of parents who tell coaches what to do, but we certainly encourage Cas to stand up for himself — if cash was the motivator, so be it!). And his coach said yes! So during warm-ups, Cas got a few pointers on his stance and how to avoid balks. When the game finally started at 8:45 p.m., he played center field. Right field was being played by one of the coach’s sons who had broken his wrist (I think) before the season began and hadn’t played any games. When only 8 boys showed up, the fill-in got a chance in the outfield.

The Indians’ starting pitcher struggled (to put it mildly) in the first inning, allowing 5 runs. With only 1 out in the top of the first inning and the bases loaded, the coach made the call to the “bullpen,” and Cas got his chance to pitch in a game. For the first time ever.

He threw one pitch — a wild one in the dirt, and it looked like an inauspicious beginning. The runners started going, but the Indians in-fielders were wide awake (they had never seen Cas pitch either, so they were on their toes!). The catcher tracked down the ball and threatened to throw — somewhere, anywhere. The base runners panicked, and when the catcher threw it to first, the first baseman tagged out the first-base runner. Then he threw it back to the catcher, and the catcher tagged the third-base runner out at home! A double play! Cas had thrown 1 pitch, and the Indians were finally out of the inning! Wow!

The second inning wasn’t quite as dramatic. Let’s say Cas might need a little more practice pitching. He hit three batters and walked four others. He ended up walking in two runs and allowing 5 total to score before the coach gave the ball to another kid.

Cas got to handle the ball that inning more than he had in the past half dozen games put together! I was proud of him for asking his coach to pitch and proud of him for taking the ball in a high-pressure situation. I was even proud to see him struggle and not give up through the long second inning.

The team played only one more inning as the night wore one, and the game ended with the Indians being blanked, 10-0. The team ended their season with something like one win, 24 losses (enjoy the summary — or don’t — under “Little League Update,” above).

In a culture that values winning over almost anything else, it’s tough to watch game after game of mistakes, misplays and losses. My athletic career in high school was less than stellar, too, and the only thing I learned back then was how to hate Kari Willis (the basketball phenom) and golf.

Watching Cas’ baseball season reminded me that being the best might feel good, but it doesn’t necessarily teach you anything. Instead, hanging in there when the going gets rough can be fun if you maintain a good attitude, it teaches you teamwork and you learn to find success in situations that look pretty bleak.

Caswell won’t be the best at everything in life, and he will encounter his share of crushing defeats. But maybe he will recall the fun of pitching in a lost cause and remember to find joy in every moment.

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Soaking up the sunshine vitamin

I spent a lot of hours laying on the deck in a swimsuit, sweating away my summer vacation when I was a teen-ager. A deep, dark tropical tan in the 1980s was the teen-age currency that  a cell phone with unlimited text messaging is today; you were a nobody without one.

That’s why everyone has skin cancer nowadays. That, and the ozone hole, I guess.

Anyway, I was reminded today of my days on the back-yard deck and my years as a life guard at an outdoor pool: I got a great tan today while I watched 5 hours of Little League baseball.

I was wearing sunscreen, so I hope instead of skin cancer (and wrinkles), I got a lot of Vitamin D. I got literally thousands of International Units of Vitamin D today to fight osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases.

Game 1 was pretty standard and unsurprising (click on the “Little League Latest” tab at the top of this page for details). Game 2 was easily one of the strangest baseball games I’ve ever witnessed (though I hear from my friend Stacy that Little League games for 4-year-olds can be pretty bizarre). The Hampshire Indians had only 8 players, so a player from the opposing team batted ninth and played right field for us. And we had only one umpire instead of two; after a 12-run bottom of the first inning, he announced he was expanding the strike zone and batters better start swinging.

The Indians were on their third pitcher when I left in the middle of the third inning.

I had had enough Vitamin D.

They won! They won! They won!

Caswell’s Little League team won a game yesterday!

This is cause for celebration because they’ve played 14 other games without winning.

It was a hot Saturday afternoon, which is unusual. I spent the last game on Monday night wearing three coats and a stadium blanket and still left the field with cold hands.

Apparently, the Woodstock Blue had won only one other game, and I heard this from a parent before the game, so I knew there was a chance of a win.

The score was close — within two runs — the whole game. Our pitching held up great, and our fielders did a pretty good job of managing outs. Cas, playing left field, caught a deep pop fly in the bottom of the sixth inning to keep the damage that inning to only one run, so the Indians went into the seventh — the final inning — down only one run.

For more details on the game, check out the Little League Update (one of the tabs, above).

There’s nothing like the joy of victory after 14 agonies of defeat. So sweet!

Little league, big fun!

I went to my first Little League game today, and I loved it!

Caswell originally wanted to play soccer this spring, but he was too old by two weeks, so he signed up for baseball instead. I was secretly thrilled. Naturally, being the neophyte stepmother that I am, I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Compared to what I expected, the registration fee was higher, the uniform more complicated, the schedule a lot busier and the games much more interesting!

I’ve see plenty of middle-school football and soccer games in the past two years, and they aren’t all that precise, for the most part. A lot of mushy play for 40 minutes or so, and finally, time runs out. But today, heck, it was exciting when the pitcher finally got a ball over the plate, or a hitter connected, or an outfielder actually caught the ball. The game didn’t move forward until someone got out, somehow.

I found myself rooting for both teams! Watching Major League Baseball all the time, I’ve gotten used to seeing sophisticated strikes, diving catches and amazing double plays. I’d forgotten that baseball is hard. So when you see a skinny pitcher finally throw a strike or a pudgy eighth-grader hit a solid grounder, you cheer!

And, I learned a few things about being a baseball mom:

  • A. Know what time the game starts.
  • B. Know where the game is being played.
  • C. Assume traffic will be bad and the roads under construction.

Because if you don’t, your Little Leaguer will be late!

Caswell arrived at the diamond with about 30 seconds to spare. He played left field, and he had one appearance at the plate (struck out).

The Hampshire Indians lost to the TriCities Mustangs by a score of, oh, about 15-1. Not exactly sure on the Mustangs’ score because I quit counting after they scored 7 in the bottom of the first inning.

But I don’t care about the score. It was 59 degrees outside at game time, and the sun was shining. The game was fun to watch and I’m looking forward to the next one.