It ended the only way it realistically could have, and so here we are hoisting the second-place trophy. Some of the forced or absent smiles tell the story. They wanted this game and they almost got it.
The kid who’d probably be the #7 pitcher on the team threw two innings of 2-run ball and we kept it close. Ultimately, though, the fourth game in five days stretched us too thin against a pretty good team that was fully rested. We lost 14-11.
This is my third year of (assistant) coaching baseball, and I’ve pitched in on a couple of soccer seasons, too. I can say without any hesitation that this is the best group of kids we’ve had by far. I’m proud of them all for their effort, attitude, and willingness to learn. Just a fun bunch to be around. Unsurprisingly, their parents are universally great, too. Supportive and present in all of the right ways and none of the wrong. Not one tool in the bunch. I’m really bummed the season is over.
I may be a little biased, but I’m especially proud of the third slugger from the left in the first row of standing boys. One of the smallest kids in the league, he worked his way up to the #6 (of 11) spot in the lineup, consistently making contact against even the biggest fireballing fourth graders in town. Fearless. We don’t keep individual stats, but I’d bet he was among the top four RBI producers on the team. Watching him grow from a tentative swinger to one who now strides confidently to the plate and digs in while holding up his back hand to signal “time” to the ump is a highlight of the year. He really came into himself as a ballplayer this season.
He decided he didn’t want to play summer travel ball this year which was a slight disappointment, but it’s fully his decision and I respect it. We’ll be back here in the spring, and he’s excited for real soccer in the fall. More unstructured time at the pool sounds like a winner in the meantime.