Her first game of the season, her team (the Tigers) played a team called the Express. The Express WALLOPED the Tigers. They won something like 30-0. In addition to that, the coach was a GIANT DOUCHE BAG. He was cheating, even though they were running away with the game, and he was getting away with it because he was also bullying the umpire (most umpires in this league are young teenagers - 13, 14 years old.) It was a pretty awful experience.
Unluckily for us, the Tigers were also scheduled to play the Express as their last game of the season, this past Friday. We'd had a pretty mediocre season - out of a ten game season, we were going into Friday night with five losses, three wins, and a tie. All of the parents were fully expecting another blowout. Before the game, when the coach was talking to the team, he asked them who had not pitched at all this season yet. The kids who hadn't pitched raised their hands - except Elizabeth, and the coach then said "You too, Elizabeth, I know you haven't" and then she begrudgingly put her hand up. He then told them that if they hadn't pitched yet this season and wanted to, all they had to do was ask, and he would put them in, even if it was for just one batter. They could come off the mound whenever they wanted.
Elizabeth trotted over to me to get her batting helmet, because they were up to bat first and she was pretty early in the line up. I said to her "Are you going to pitch?" And she looked at me like I'd lost my mind and said "Uh, NO."
"Because I can't pitch. I'm no good at it."
"You've been practicing all summer!"
"I'm not going to do it, I don't want to."
"Just think about it, okay?"
And then she walked away from me and back to the dugout.
Nobody scored in the first inning. A kid named Karl, who hadn't been there most of the summer because they were traveling, was pitching. He was pretty good, and made me wish he'd been around, haha.
In the second inning, we somehow scored SEVEN RUNS, which is the mercy limit for an inning in this league. Karl pitched again and somehow managed to go three up three down. Suddenly we were up by seven against the Express.
In the third inning, we didn't score again. In the field, my friend Jennie's son Kimo was pitching. Elizabeth has been practicing with Kimo all summer, because Kimo's little brother Koa is on Jacob's baseball team, so between the two teams and the four kids, we saw each other almost every day in July. Kimo had a rough start - walked two batters and then hit two, which is an automatic walk. He gave up a couple of runs, but the Express was still behind.
Somewhere in here, the Express coach started bitching at the umpire about the strike zone. The umpire, who was NOT a young teenager, but a guy who looked to be close to my dad's age, basically growled at him to BACK OFF. All the parents on our team chuckled.
In the fourth inning, we didn't score at all again. Then the coach's daughter Hadley, who is a good friend of Elizabeth's, took the mound. She had never pitched. She walked a few kids, and then the coach pulled her, and put in Dyson, who pitched a lot for the team that summer. By the end of the fourth, the Express was still behind, but creeping up the score.
Dyson pitched the fifth inning, and gave up one run. The score was 7-6, Tigers.
The sixth is the last inning in this league. In the top of sixth, we managed to score, making it 8-6.
The bottom of the sixth was about to start. Elizabeth's coach was calling out positions. All of a sudden, I heard him say "Elizabeth, pitch." I turned to my friends and said "What did he just say? Did he just tell her to pitch?" And the next thing I knew, she was trotting out to the mound.
Watching your kid pitch - your kid who has never pitched, who is playing in a boys' league, in the bottom of the sixth, when her team is up against a team who handed them their asses - is insane.
Kimo was catching, which was perfect because Liz has been playing catch with Kimo literally all summer. She pitched a few balls, and the suddenly - the umpire was calling strikes. Everyone was screaming for her. First, a kid got a hit off her, and made it to first base because the first baseman bobbled the ball. Then she threw a few more balls and a strike, and the second batter hit a pop fly to right field, where the fielder caught it and got him out. On that play, the kid on first base ran all the way to third (even though that is against the rules in this league.) Then she struck a kid out! Two outs, and we were going crazy.
The coach went out to the mound, talked to her for a second, and sent her to right field to swap places with a boy named Zack, who also hadn't pitched at all this season. Zack is a really small kid, who had been having a lot of trouble this season. Most days he could barely make the throw from second to first, let alone get a pitch across the plate. But he wanted to pitch, and the coach kept his word.
Zack walked his first batter, so now there were runners on first and third, and the score was still 8-6, us. The second batter got a hit, and the runner on third made it home, making the score 8-7. Now there were runners on first and second. He walked the third batter, and now the bases were loaded.
And then Zack struck out the last batter. And they won, against the Express, 8-7, to end the season.
I have never been so proud of my girl in her life. Not because they won (although that was amazing and kind of like living in a real life kids' sports movie) but because she was so convinced she couldn't do it, and then she got out there and did it anyway and did it WELL.
I love her so much.