Letter: The way the game should be played
On a beautiful, sunny and hot afternoon last Monday, July 15, I honestly believe I witnessed one of the most inspiring softball games in my career. Take note that I have been involved in over 2,800 games, but this particular game was truly remarkable.
It involved 20 young ladies, 10 from our beloved Mathews Little League and 10 from Damascus, totally exhausted from the 95 degree temperature, playing in their second game for the coveted Junior Little League State Championship.
Unlike travel ball programs, in Little League championships if your team does not win that weekend there is no next weekend. Both teams knew that and just left every ounce of energy in their bodies on the field. That’s the way the game is to be played!
All four pitchers from both teams just kept on throwing pitches, hoping that each pitch would retire a batter. Both catchers each caught all 14 innings of the day, kept blocking pitches in the dirt and attempting to throw out each base-stealing runner. Each outfielder, with tired arms and legs, constantly ran down balls hit in the gaps to make every effort to stop the batters from getting an extra base.
Dedicated and devoted ball players each live a dream that, with every ball they toss up and hit, whether it’s at a practice or in their backyard, this swing is the game-winning, last-inning home run in a state championship game … and it happened: the most perfect ending of an epic and classic softball game that these young ladies will remember for the rest of their lives.
I saw two small dugout signs that day that wrote the story of this game. One only said "Believe and Achieve," while the other described the word teamwork as the accomplishment of achieving the ultimate goal and no one cares who gets the credit!
Not one of these young ladies cared who hit the farthest ball, who had the most hits, who scored the most runs or which pitcher had the most strikeouts. It was all about which team was going to be crowned the state champion!
For our Junior State Champions, the very first pitch of Friday’s first game was hit for a home run and the very last pitch was hit for a walk-off home run, but in between those two pitches was the performance of a ball team. Great pitching, hitting, defense and, again, Teamwork!
It’s no doubt that our Mathews County Little League softball program is on fire. This is back-to-back state championships. Along with all of the other coaches and parents, I am so very proud to be a small part of the teamwork that has produced these two teams.
My only wish would be that this game could have been played closer to home so that so many more people could have seen it. Congratulations, ladies and coaches, on your well-deserved state championship in one of the best summer classics I have ever witnessed. It’s incredible that our league had never won a state tourney and now it’s back-to-back in two of the most nail-biting and dramatic championship games I have ever taken part in and watched.
"Mathews Softball Has No Fear—To The Top"
Cobbs Creek, Va.