Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Most Exciting Sport Ever

I stumbled across an altogether exciting sport the other day - Girls' College Softball. Why would this sport be interesting, you ask? At first glance, I'll admit - doesn't sound all that thrilling. But trust me - it is. See, K-Dawg and I both quickly realized that a fairly talented group of Little Leaguers (none more than 9 or 10 years old) could easily mop up some of the best girls' teams in the game, namely those competing in the College World Series of Softball. The game which we watched was riddled with errors and all-around horrible play, but heck, I suppose that happens now-and-then in any sport (at every level). So maybe we just saw an isolated incident of poor play, right? Hmmmm.

This afternoon, I happen to turn the TV on and whadya know... more softball! Looking at the handy-dandy scoreboard in the corner of the screen, I initially think to myself, "Well, gee, I guess I was wrong. This looks like a rather good bout!" Michigan was up 2-0 in the bottom of the 12th over LSU. I believe games normally end after 7 innings (because 9 is just too many, I guess), so this was really quite the epic battle. The Lady Wolverines had hit a two-run blast in the top of the inning, and all they had to do to win was get three little outs. This should have been no problem, considering they had held the other team scoreless the whole game. Well, two of the first three batters went down without putting up too much of a fight. So the game was down to the final batter... a girl on first, up by 2. Maybe Michigan was just a little too comfortable.

The girl at the plate did this weird running-bunt thing (no surprise, for those familiar with the sport). Expectedly, the ball rolled right to the pitcher. All she had to do was pick the ball up and tag the runner out. It was a routine, easy play that my grandmother probably could have made. But rather than do that, the pitcher decided kicking the ball into foul territory would be more fitting for the moment. Okay, so two runners on now. Still up by two. 2 outs.

The next batter hit an RBI single and advanced the other runner to third. Uh oh. It was at this time that the coach decided it might be a good idea to change her pitcher for the first time in the game. Runners at the corners, a star reliever coming in, up by 2-1. By all accounts, this was still Michigan's game to lose.

Well, if you're a fan of the big M... I've got good news and bad news. The good news is the new pitcher retired the only batter she faced, getting the third out of the inning. The bad? Before doing that, she threw a wild pitch, allowing the tying run to score from third.

On to the 13th.

Top of the inning for Michigan: 1, 2, 3. LSU was back at the plate now in the bottom half of the frame. Michigan's star reliever got the first two batters, lickety-split. Looking good. But remember - this is the wild and crazy world of softball, so you never know what might happen next! In this particular case, a single by LSU prolonged the game, but that should have been the end of their threat for the inning...

Mouth literally wide open, I watched spellbound as the fourth batter to come to the plate in the inning hit a weak shot to the shortstop, who then proceeded to throw the ball into right field for no apparent reason. Okay, that in itself was pretty unexpected, but the error hadn't cost Michigan the game. The runner on first had advanced to third on the poor throw, but she had stopped there content with being just a few feet away from home for the next batter. Well, she would have been content to stay there, I guess, had it not been for what happened next... The right fielder scooped up the ball that had sailed over first base and then decided to rifle it home (even though the runner was clearly stopped on third). In her hurry to get it there, I want to say she missed the bag by a mile, but that wouldn't be true. The throw was perfectly on target. The catcher, however, must have been dreaming about shoes or something, because the ball bounced off her and down the line. The girl on third slowly waltzed down the basepath and scored. And just like that, LSU had won 3-2.

There ya have it... typical Girls' College Softball. And I didn't even mention the hand-holding, the chants, or the field's itsy-bitsy dimensions. In short, those girls - although more appealing to the eye than most ballplayers I've seen - well, they definitely don't got game.

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