Part one of the spring kid sports roundup will focus on the kickball girls.
First up is C, who is playing in her third season, and on a team mixed with 3rd and 4th graders. They’ve had a really good season, sitting 5–1 and tied for first with a game to play. They won their first three games easily, and then got destroyed in their fourth game. Adding insult to defeat, one girl on the other team kicked a ball that hopped a low stone wall, rolled into the street, and got hit by a car. You wouldn’t think a kickball getting hit by a car would sound like a gun firing, but it did. Worse, it was our ball. I really should have billed the other school $12.
They rebounded nicely and won their next game easily. They’ve been fighting rain for the last two weeks, and the forecast for their final regular season game tomorrow does not look promising.
They’re tied with both the team they lost to, and another team that they beat but which beat the team that beat them. So if all three teams finish 6–1, there’s going to be some kind of wacky playoff to figure out which team goes to the city title game.
C has had a really good year. She’s kicking the ball well, uses her speed a lot, and does a great job playing both pitcher and suicide. She’s had two multiple home run games. Twice she’s made all three of an inning on defense. In my totally unbiased opinion, she’s one of the top 2–3 players in her grade at St. P’s. She just needs to do a little better with her decision making on defense, and keep her toe down to drive the ball instead of occasionally popping it up. Pop ups are outs when you get to 5th grade. If she can keep the ball on a line, that girl can run for days while the defense chases it.
M’s team is in an interesting spot. At a lot of schools, including St. P’s, sixth graders often do not play in the spring. But since this class finished second at city last fall, their best player rallied the class and made sure they had enough for a team this season to take one more run at the championship. We think this is the first time St. P’s has ever fielded an all sixth grade team in the spring.
For the most part, they’ve been killing teams. That should be offered with an asterisk, because most of the teams they’ve beaten are heavy with fifth graders. A couple teams even pulled up third and fourth graders to fill their rosters. Their games generally follow a pattern: score a bunch of runs in the first two innings and then back off until we hit the mercy rule inning limit.
They were 6–0 going into last night’s game against their nemesis, St. B’s. St. B’s beat them at city last fall, and is the only school that has beaten this class more once. But St. B’s came into the game with a loss, so we figured this wasn’t the same group of girls they had lost to 26–1 in the championship game in September.
Sure enough, the team they played was mostly fifth graders. But since it is St. B’s, they were still really good fifth graders. Our girls jumped out early, but St. B’s stayed without shouting distance all night. It was never close, but St. B’s was always a big inning away from getting right back in it. For the first time all year, we had to play the full seven innings. A burst in the sixth inning made it a comfortable 26–7 win. Our girls were excited to beat St. B’s, but were also aware that they weren’t playing their match in age or talent.
So our girls are on to City for the third time in four seasons! We’re pretty sure we know who we’re playing. Our fifth grade team played the likely opponents during the season, and their coach said they have a bunch of good kickers, but aren’t as good on defense as our sixth graders are. And our girls catch just about everything. Looks like sometime next week we’ll see if the old Defense Wins Championships theory holds in 5th–6th grade kickball.
M has had a solid year. She’s kicking better than she ever has. She’s gotten the ball into the outfield a couple times. She still looks to tap the ball and use her speed to get on if the situation allows it. She’s also played some at suicide and has thrown out a couple girls at first from the third-base line. As always, though, she loves being on a team more than anything. She’s one of the loudest kids in the lineup when it comes to cheering for her teammates.
Oh, one other highlight from the season. One night at M’s game, the umpire didn’t show up. Later we learned he looked at the schedule wrong and went to St. P’s instead of the school we were playing at. While the home team was on the phone with the CYO office trying to track the ump down, M’s coach came over to me and said, “You’re my ump if he doesn’t show up.”
Oh fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuudge… Only I didn’t say fudge.
Five minutes later the home coach said CYO told her to grab some parents and play without an official ump. She called her athletic director and asked him to come back, but we would start the game with just me in the field. Perfect day to wear my purple St. P’s shirt! Yeah, this was going to be super uncomfortable. Even more so after M starting jumping around saying, “MY DAD IS GOING TO BE UMP! MY DAD IS GOING TO BE UMP!” She’s such a jackass. I told her to shut up or I was going to call her out every time she kicked.
Fortunately the girls took all the pressure off of me early. They scored 20 in the top half of the first, then got the home team 1–2–3 in the bottom half. From there we coasted through the minimum number of innings until the mercy rule kicked in. The only call I think I missed came in the top of the first. Our best kicker did her usual thing, kicking the ball all the way across the parking lot. I watched the girl in front of her touch third, but then looked to see where the ball was while the kicker passed third. Immediately the home parents started yelling, “SHE MISSED THIRD! SHE MISSED THIRD! TAG THE BASE!”
Oh shit. I wasn’t watching when she passed third. I had no idea if she touched or not.
Luckily the home team took me off the hook. Instead of throwing the ball to third, they gave it to the pitcher, who stepped inside the circle. In kickball that not only makes the ball dead, but ends any chance for appeal. The home coach even said that to her parents so they understood the rule. Which I thought was really nice, because I was about to piss myself at screwing up a call when it was only 3–0 in the first.
The funniest thing about that is that when I’m keeping score, we always stand right behind third base. And I always watch to make sure girls touch third. If one of our girls misses, I quietly tell them to make sure they touch the base when they come check in with us. But the night I’m umpiring, I miss it.
It was pretty nerve racking to be out there though. It would be one thing if I did it every week. But another to get pulled in at the last minute, and when your daughter is playing. I was just thrilled the result was never in question and I couldn’t screw that up for one team or the other. The other guy never showed up. I wonder if, after we went up 20–0, they called him and told him not to bother.
- The position next to pitcher who fields bunts, covers home, etc. ↩