Altitude Sickness, Column

Softball: Singles get the job done

Ah, spring, when young men’s thoughts turn to … well, to skiing. Also to mountain biking and road cycling and rock climbing, and softball.

I skied what I think was day 213 today (it starts to get confusing when I am not only operating by scans, but by counted uphill days — simple math has never been simple for me), and yesterday I played my first two games of softball for the season, too.

Last year I started the softball season having done some sprint interval training, so I came in hard and fast. Not this year, my friends. This year I have been largely sedentary, and my legs were not ready for the sprinting, and I honestly was not able to leg out a single like I was last year. I literally had to remember to run after I hit the ball.

Never fear, though, dear reader, I got my legs back under me by the end. We had a double header. The first game was against last year’s league champions (we lost badly, started to catch up in the second half, but there is no defense against home run hitters). The second game was more evenly matched. We won, but the lead went back and forth. The real surprise of the game was all of the new faces on our team, several of them folks who sat in at the last minute because our roster was short. Two young women came on, and although they were quiet about it they turned out to be two of the better players on our team (one of them possibly the best player on our team). One of them stepped up to pitch even though she had never pitched. She got shelled during the first game (the opposing team has hitters who shell everyone) and kept her chin up, no mean feat. Both of them were great on the field and in the batters’ box, with good arms (one was throwing balls that hissed during the warmup; I knew I was outclassed).

I am hoping that everyone we fielded comes back, because it wasn’t a half bad team, and everyone turned out to be base hit/single type hitters. Home runs are fun, but singles are what get the job done (if you doubt it, read “Moneyball”), and I will take a team of single hitters any day of the week. When we get our pitcher back (he apparently had a shift he had to work), we will be a dangerous team — quick with the bat, fast on the bases.

Playing first base was fun, and my catch lunge is as stretchy and reach as it ever was, and on an out or two having my glove be nine and a half feet from the base may be what made the difference between safe and out (the throw doesn’t have to go as far, and the runner is out sooner).

The bummer of it is that I really can’t stand up long enough to comfortably play a double header. The sprinting was hard, but the standing was harder. Where the sprinting came into play was not the pain in my hip/back, but rather in the excruciating stiffness this morning that got me. It usually takes me two to three days to get really sore from exertion, so the fact that I felt like I was carved out of wood the morning after means very bad things for the following days — soreness of biblical proportion. Luckily the next few days of skiing are lift service!

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