(By Mackenzie Brewster)
Blood streamed down the cloth of her immaculate jersey and onto the sandy dirt. It flowed from her face like relentless tears. She lay prostrate , vulnerable, painfully helpless. Then the ambulance came and rolled her away. A man raked the circle of blood off the field.
Some people say hardball is not a sport. Some believe girls aren't tough enough. Valley High School varsity player Christy Connor would beg to differ . Her weapon was her bat. Her drive was her need for victory. Her power? Well, that was just her broad shoulders, long legs, and strong body. Christy Connor was an athlete. She was tough enough to take our Pundit High varsity pitcher out for the season.
Christy stepped inside the lines of the White Rectangle of Doom. She readied her bat and cocked it between her shoulders, with her hands in close proximity to her ears. Our pitcher signaled her pitch to the catcher. The catcher nodded and the pitch was released. Smash. This was the sound of the ball off the bat, making its way to our pitcher's nose. Crack. This was the sound of her nose breaking, flattening across her face. Thud. This was the sound of her body hitting the ground, in the time span of only three seconds. Then only silence was heard. The crowd stood, mouths open and eyes bulged . Hearts fell to the floor and hands covered heads in distress. The Pundit team gathered together and turned away from the mound. Our fallen soldier screamed.
Go warm up, the coach said to me.
These three words made an impression on me that I would never forget. I processed them for a minute. "Warm up?" I thought. I was the second pitcher in line, weighing in at only one hundred pounds, equipped with a nose that could be shattered by a landing butterfly. I was the only one there with trembling hands and a mortified mind. The pitcher's blood had just been spewed across the infield . I was the next pitcher. It wasn't exactly a difficult connection to make. My eyes watered, my breath quickened, my heart hammered. I was about to pitch against monsters twice my size in one of the biggest games of the season. These were the same monsters that had just taken down one of us. My mind raced with scenarios of how the remaining eight innings of the game could go. Each scenario revolved around me, dead on the floor.
These thoughts lasted only ten minutes. Our pitcher, still screaming, was carted away. I pulled back my hair, took a deep breath, and then hesitantly stepped on the mound as the game restarted. The crowd may have been in shock as our pitcher was carried out, but they were in disbelief when they realized we were about to continue. My mother's fright worsened as she saw me, a little freshman, step into the circle.
You can do it, my dad mouthed.
My mom looked at me with pride and held up her hands in a boxing stance position.
Fight, she said.
I knew what she meant. It was my chance to prove that even Christy Connor wasn't tougher than me, nor the other eight Valley players of great height and power. I quickly closed the inning without letting them score. I took a deep breath, thankful I hadn't died yet. Every time a new monster entered the batter's box, they looked at their coach with a cocky smirk and laughed at the fact that they had already defeated our team. They couldn't defeat me.
Well, technically, they could - and did. They won nine to zero. But that wasn't what mattered that day. They never did defeat me internally. Some people say girls can't play sports, or they aren't tough enough. I was tough enough to pitch the rest of the game, scared out of my mind but persistent. The outcome was irrelevant. What mattered was persistence.
Sports are significant in the moment, like anything else in life. However, lasting significance comes from the lessons you learn. I wasn't meant to pitch amazingly that day; I was meant to learn a lesson about myself. Nothing could come my way, be it a monster or a mouse, which I could not confront. I could not go through life afraid to take on the impossible. I could not be afraid to take a risk - because it would always be in the trying that I could achieve success.