Kickball is done.

As you should recall from last week, L’s team had to finish a game that was mysteriously cut short by their opponents, then play that team again in a full game. Sweep the game and they would go onto the City championship. A split meant a tie-breaker playoff game to settle matters.

In the suspended game Friday, we got a run in our half of the sixth to push our lead to 13, then got out of the bottom of the inning unscathed to secure the first win. That was the highlight of the day, though. We got absolutely trounced in the full game. It was 20–1 after two innings. We righted things a bit to keep from getting run-ruled, but still lost 40–17. We couldn’t kick, our defense was atrocious, and our girls just weren’t into the game at all.

Last night was the playoff game. I was really wound up on Friday but was pretty chill last night. I figured the second game was probably more true-to-form than the first, so was just hoping we could keep it close. We had a 5–3 lead in the second, and two outs on defense, before we made a couple misplays and suddenly were down 8–5. That was pretty much the game. We left the bases loaded without getting any runs the next two innings. In the fourth we gave up six runs with two outs. It was 14–5 going into the sixth. We got two runs but ended the game with a force out at home.

Here’s the thing, though: this was almost definitely our girls best game of the year. We had girls up-and-down the line crushing the ball. We just kept crushing it right at defenders.[1] L almost killed a girl in the first inning with a line drive, and only got a single out of it because the ball ricocheted right to the pitcher. Their pitcher caught at least six liners, and their suicides kept nailing our girls at home when we loaded the bases. On defense we were outstanding, those hiccups in the second and fourth aside. We had two 1–2–3 innings. We held their best kicker, who kicked four home runs Friday, to just one. The only thing we didn’t do well was run the bases. While St S’s girls were making turns and being aggressive, our girls kept stopping. We probably left 3–4 runs at third because of that.

St S averaged nearly 40 runs a game in their five regular season wins. We held them to 14 twice. I was really, really proud of our girls after the game. It would have been great to win and go to City, but I thought they showed a ton of improvement. We had a group of three or four girls who should be able to blast the ball but can’t quite do it yet. If we get those girls kicking the ball hard, that can turn a good team into a really good one. And hopefully beat St S in the spring.

L ended the season with a team-high seven home runs. The only games she didn’t kick a homer in were our two losses. St S had girls at the corners who were not afraid of the ball and knocked down her low-liners. She kicked four balls yesterday that would likely have been homers against weaker teams. Instead she went 3–4 with three singles. Yesterday she played part of the game at suicide and part at first, swapping with another girl. Those two were awesome together, getting a combined eight outs. Whoever was up front was making perfect throws and the girl at first made the catch every time.

On our way home she asked if we would practice between now and the spring season. I told her we could kick today if she wanted to.

“No, I mean the whole team, not just us.”

I like the way she’s thinking!

OK, it was a big cross country Saturday so a quick update on that.

Man, was it hot. I talked to one of the XC coaches Friday and we agreed there would be no PRs set the next day, as the forecast was for it to be hot and humid and it was an afternoon race. Mother Nature did not disappoint: it was pushing 90 and the sun was blazing all afternoon.

C surprised us a little, though. She didn’t set a PR, but she did run her second fastest 3K ever. More importantly, she helped her team win the team title.

When the race started we were more concerned with whether she would stay in the top 25, which was the cutoff for ribbons.[2] After the gun, we walked out to the midpoint to wait for her. When she came through, she and her buddy were together at 28 and 29, a little back from two of the St P’s sixth graders.[3] Right when she passed us she made a move and passed four or five girls before they disappeared back into the woods.

We ran down nearer the finish line to watch them come in. Our sixth grader who won the first two races of the year was well ahead of everyone else again. Then we started counting. The next St P’s girl didn’t come in until #12. I figured the next sixth grader would be right behind her. But, no, it was C on her heels! Running hard and putting space between the girls behind her. She came in 14th, at 14:15, which was awesome given the heat and humidity. Over a minute slower than her insane time at City a year ago, but still good enough for her second fastest 3K by about 20 seconds.

She was the fifth 5th grader to cross the finish line. More importantly, she was the third St P’s girl, so she was in the points. She even placed ahead of one of her sixth grade teammates who had been well ahead of her a week ago. St P’s top four – the girls who claim points for the team – finished 1st, 12th, 14th, and 15th, which was good enough to easily win the team championship. They got a huge ass trophy for their performance. At practice last night they had a special presentation with the assistant principal and this morning they took pictures with both principals and the main priest. Now they have three weeks and two meets to prep for City, and a chance to take home another trophy.

  1. Full credit: St S played great defense. But this was the best we kicked, as a team, all season. Including the games we scored 40 runs.  ↩
  2. This is one of the biggest races of the year, thus the deeper threshold for ribbons. Also it’s the only non-City Championship meet with a team competition.  ↩
  3. The pattern this year has been three sixth graders are the first three St. P’s finishers, then C and her buddy E are some combo of 4th and 5th.  ↩