Y'all. I don't even know how to talk about this without getting all weepy and stuff, but here goes.
Last Thursday night, Miss Lizzy's team went out for what is quite possibly their last softball game together as the Inferno. They were up against their rival the Riptide for the rec league 14U championship. In three years, they've only beat the Riptide twice, so the intimidation factor was definitely at play.
Lizzy was set to be the starting pitcher, and her confidence has grown throughout the season. I was pretty much a nervous wreck about it. She's been known to start out good, but then crumple into a pile of tears as she battles her fear of failure and embarrassment on the mound. Her friend, co-pitcher, and the team's sure handed third baseman has had to take over the mound more often than not as Lizzy has struggled to find her inner fighter. It's been rough to watch over the last couple of years, but this season... finally, my kiddo has come into her own.
So the game kicked off and our girls came out swinging. Both teams traded leads as the sun set and the gnats came out on their nightly blood hunting expedition. We mom's and dad's screamed, groaned, and prayed as the innings ticked by. Since it was a championship game, the girls were slated to play seven innings, no matter how long it took. (Normally games have time limits of 90 minutes [I think], and rarely go longer than four innings.)
The Inferno had the Riptide on the ropes several times, but the ladies in pale blue kept creeping back up. It was CRAZY. I was still a nervous wreck. My kid, held strong.
Her stomach hurt (cramps happen... what can I say?) She slid and got smacked in the head by the third baseman. She stole home and ripped the flesh off her knee, calf and ankle. But you know what? She kept going back out to that mound, inning after inning. And she kept throwing hard.
We ended up going into an extra inning, tied. It was more than any of us Inferno parents could have imagined. But then, in the bottom of the eighth, the Riptide rallied, and conquered. It was such a mixture of defeat and triumph all wrapped up into one red clay covered moment.
Lizzy cried. But not because she was sad about getting beat. She cried because she'd done it. She'd lasted eight innings, THREE hours worth of softball, and she'd held herself together with courage and grace. It's one of those moments that she'll probably never forget.
Our Inferno took home the second place trophy, but for all the shrieks and smiles on our side of the field, you'd have thought they'd won it all. These girls went from, "Will we be able to beat anyone our age?" to being a couple of crappy umpire's calls from being league champs.
And after the game, several of the players' dads from the Riptide, including their coach came up to Big Dave to ask if Lizzy was playing for a travel ball team or a high school team. They were pretty darned impressed with our baby girl! She's the fastest pitcher in the league, and if she can master her control of the ball she might even be good enough to play for SCPS. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
It really was a doggoned awesome night.
Every one of our girls was filthy and tired from giving 100%. They played their hearts out.
This chick ^^^ has taught my kid how to be brave and to find her inner badass. I kinda love her.
We've been blessed to be associated with this beautiful group of ladies. And we couldn't have asked for better, more loving coaches.
And so... from Regina's infield heroics, to Jasmine's leadership from center field, and Victoria's sure handedness behind home plate... Ebony's efforts on the left field line, and Eden's tenacity at third... Janay's steady hand and amazing reach at first, and Leslie's quick glove at short stop... to Lizzy's overcoming her fear on the mound, and Harmony's and Momo's solid patient bats, to our quick footed and fearless little base runners Lexie, Julia and Kayla. These girls have proven themselves to be beautiful in ways that most cannot imagine.