Three years ago, as Kacey was heading into her senior year of high school, I began to mourn the end of her softball playing days.
The summer after senior year, she informed us she was eligible to play one more season of fast-pitch softball in her age group. We all celebrated and enjoyed one last summer of competition, fun and friends. Afterwards, I began to mourn the end of Kacey’s softball playing days.
Last summer, after finishing her first year of college, Kacey informed us that her softball pals were forming a slow-pitch team and joining a rec league. We were all amused at how Kacey’s softball “career” never seemed to end and enjoyed a summer of less serious competition and watching this group of friends enjoy spending time together playing a game that they love. At the end of the season, I didn’t feel so mournful. Kacey had squeezed out every last bit of opportunity to play softball and had many fond memories to look back on.
This spring, after finishing her second year of college, Kacey informed us that as long as she was still only nineteen years old on January 1st of this year, (which she was,) she was still eligible to play in the summer rec league with her pals. And so began another summer that included weekly ball games. These games were much different from the ones the girls played in their fast-pitch days. The girls’ long-time coaches were still there to “coach,” but really, the girls just decided what positions they would play each inning, running from the bench and calling out, “I got second,” or “Shortstop!”
They had much fun, as they always have. From week to week, they would assign each other different names by which they would be known. One week, they all had to go by their grandmother’s first names. Kacey was known as Margie that week. When the coach called out the batting order last night, we heard, “Mark, John, Ronald!” Mark and I laughed and wondered what the naming convention was this week. Turns out the girls were going by their dads’ middle names. Kacey and two other girls shared the same name, so to avoid confusion, they were known last night as Richard, Dick and Richie.
In Kacey’s younger days, I never missed a ball game if I could help it. Now that she’s a young adult, I attended very few games. She’s older now and I assumed she wanted this time with her friends, without her parents hovering over her all the time. Then one evening recently, she joked to me, “You don’t love me. You never come to my games.”
Now that it was clear that she wanted her mom at her games sometimes, it was an easy decision to go watch her play last night. It was the last week of the regular season and I had so much fun watching the girls play, bantering back and forth on the field and on the bench. They’ve known each other for so long that there’s a plethora of inside jokes and they are constantly laughing. When Kailey goofs up on the field, all the other girls ask her if she blacked out again. When Kacey is running the bases, the girls all shout to the third base coach that he better not send “the turtle” home.
After years of being team mates, the girls play ball like a well-oiled machine. I’m still impressed as I watch them on the field, each seeming to know exactly what to expect from one another. In spite of all their goofing around last night, they won both of their games by a landslide, taking third place in the league.
“As long as she’s not driving my truck,” he replied. Nice.
I have a feeling Kacey will continue to find a way to play softball as long as she is able. And hopefully, she’ll continue to do so with this great group of girls.