The fall, 2010 softball leagues are now officially over for my team with the conclusion of our playoff run this evening. The single-elimination tournament for our league's eight teams would have meant we needed to win three consecutive games to take a title in the C-league. Sadly, we were eliminated early by losing our only game. But it was perhaps the best game of the entire year!
We were playing Celebration Church, the red team that we'd won one game and lost one game against during the regular season. We expected a barnburner for the tiebreaker and it didn't disappoint. We started off slowly, and in the second inning the score stood 0-6, them, thanks to a few good hits. In the third inning, we got back two runs, and picked up four more over the next three innings, but by the top of the seventh and final inning, we still trailed 6-10. Somewhere in there, I think the fourth or fifth inning, I had a play at the plate on a runner trying to score an inside the park home run on a really well hit ball to left-center. The throw to our shortstop, Caleb, was perfect, and Caleb's throw to me at the plate was spot on. I made the catch and tagged the runner out by about three steps up the line! Another play at the plate resulted in a poorly thrown ball that I wouldn't have made an out on, but to my credit, I blocked the ball in the dirt, and prevented a run from scoring by sticking with it.
Bang, bang, bang, and darned if we didn't score four runs that seventh frame to tie the score! Despite some confusion from the scorekeeper and umpire (they mistakenly only counted three of the runs until we corrected them - during which time the red team was prematurely celebrating), we sent the game into extra innings. This eighth inning - the only extra-inning game of the season for us - as a tiebreaker inning starts off with a runner already on second base, to help speed the game along. Tragically, we scored only that one run in the eighth, but we thought it could be enough if we could hold them.
Bottom of the eighth: runner on second, no outs. Batter 1 flew out to center field, but thanks to a baserunning error where he didn't tag and advance to third, he was stranded on second. Batter 2 hit a single to center, which scored the runner on second, and retied the game. The batter-runner advanced to second on a throw to me at the plate, but there was no play. Batter three fouled out. With 2 outs, runner at second, batter 4 hit a short single to shortstop. The throw to first was misplayed, and the runner at second advanced to third. Our first baseman tried to throw him out, but could not. The catch at third was also misplayed, and the runner continued home. I got the throw from third and tagged the runner OUT by a half step, but his slide into my glove jostled the ball out, and he was safe when I dropped it.
After the play, I walked away for a moment, kind of ticked that I'd not held the ball and had lost the game for us, but I quickly got over it and congratulated the other team. Their coach came up to me personally and shook my hand, clapped me on the back and told me I'd done a great job, which really made me feel good. I told him they'd been spot on the whole night, and that I was glad to have played in such a good game.
Looking back on it, I might have been able to better hold onto the ball, but with the literal split second I had to snag it and make a tag, it would have been hard for anyone. I was a little sad that my glove had been the final straw that cost us the game, but considering our come-from-behind inning to tie the game and my other contributions at the plate and behind it, there's no way I can complain.
I went 2-for-4 this game. My first at-bat resulted in a flyout to left/left-center, and my third at-bat I struck out looking, but in my second AB I hit a Texas leaguer to left that probably should have been caught, but someone wasn't communicating properly and it dropped in there. And in my final trip to the plate, I hit a scorcher to short which was bobbled, then misthrown to first and went out of bounds, which got me awarded second base automatically. Woot!
I can't wait to try to improve next year! Our spring season begins early January! Thanks to my teammates for helping me out and playing hard. Tough loss tonight, but a solid season overall.