When I agreed to coach Wanda’s itty bitty softball team, I had no idea what I was in for. I signed up under duress and with serious stress and doubts about my ability to pull it off.
It turns out that all you need to be a softball coach at this age is patience, a bit of organizational ability, and love for the girls. And dang. They are so lovable. I’m a bit blown away by how much I’m enjoying managing this team. It doesn’t hurt that the parents are great and jump in and cover for me where I’m weak… like in anything that relates to doing the sportings.
One of my favorite things about coaching is watching the girls learn and process this new sport. Here are a few of the highlights from last week’s games:
They’re learning to bat a live ball for the first time and they’re hitting more than I expected but it’s still very new and often when they do it looks like they hit more by accident than on purpose.
Last week one of my cute girls was up there swinging the bat, and when the ball hit her bat, she was so shocked she didn’t even run. Her mouth dropped open and her eyes got huge, and when we finally convinced her to run to first, she ran all the way there with biggest smile on her face and then covered her mouth both hands. Total shock and awe.
The way the game works at this age, every girl gets to bat every inning until she hits the ball. Then we retire the inning. So, while most girls are only allowed to advance one base per hit, the last batter gets to circle the bases for a home run every time. On the last batter, the defensive players are supposed to throw the ball to home and then the catcher can tag everyone out as the empty the bases.
We’d never practiced with a catcher before our first game so the concept of catching the ball at home and then tagging girls out is totally new and each girl, as she takes her turn as catcher seems highly confused by this.
When Wanda got her first turn as catcher, our pitcher threw her the ball after the last batter. Wanda looked around for it, which is hard in all that gear, picked up the ball, dropped it in the ball bucket and went back to her position behind the plate to chillax. All the parents are yelling, “Tag her Wanda! Tag her with the ball,” and Wanda’s looking at us like we’ve lost our minds.
Another cute player figure out that she needed to tag the girls out but the girls did not want to be tagged, so they ended up running in zig-zags and circles back and forth over the baseline and around home plate in a crazy game of tag.
My absolute favorite catcher play came, however, when one little girl got impatient for her outfielders to retrieve the ball that was hit.
“Tag em with a ball?” she thought, “Hmm. Why wait for that specific ball when I’ve got a whole bucket full of balls right next to me.” Like any good problem solver, she just grabbed a new ball and started tagging girls out with it. This reminds me of my mom keeping an extra spoon in her chair when we played spoons and pulling it out when she needed to. Genius.
Now, after one game Wanda proudly informed me that she had learned how to eat sunflower seeds at the games. I was surprised by this pronouncement because sunflower seed eating is actually a pretty advanced skill. Nope. Wanda has it nailed. Video evidence below.