Sunday, February 12, 2012

Winter Softball

Yesterday was the third week of the winter open gym softball clinic for the Binghamton softball programs, and by now enough word has gotten around that pretty much everyone with a future in the game in the school district was there yesterday. I haven't been staying for the entire practices, but I see enough to get a good idea of each kid's skill sets, and I have seen confirmation of what I knew at the end of the summer last year: my daughter has a very bright future if she works to achieve it. Her fundamental skill set is very good; the ability to catch, throw, and hit is all there, without flaws, without major remedial work. She is not a fast runner, but she is not terribly slow, either, and given the position she plays, it's not a necessity to be able to run quickly. Her footwork is very, very good, and she is quick with reactions and first steps, so that kind of makes up for her lack of speed.
And of course, she is a catcher, and a good catcher at that, and anyone who was around City League softball the last few years knows that. Apparently the JV coach was not at the clinic yesterday, and given what the politics of the local softball situation is, I don't really think she would make it this year because she hasn't played travel team yet; if she gets invited to try out, she might stick, but she might not get invited. But I honestly don't think there is any way she is not going to be the West Modified catcher this year, not unless there's some prodigy out there that hasn't played anywhere yet. I got more confirmation of that idea yesterday when I talked with Ed, the father of Kayla, the main pitcher for the East All-Star team the last two years, who was at practice yesterday. Ed said, matter-of-factly, that Sabrina was the best catcher in the league, in his mind, for the last two years; he said that "with a good pitcher, nothing gets by her. And if the shortstop gets the tag down, she throws runners out. No one else really could do that." And then he sort of smiled and said, "And then she can hit, too." We talked a little bit about travel teams; he managed to get Kayla on one this year for a relatively cheap price through some lucky circumstance, but he said normally it costs about a thousand dollars a kid, which is going to be very, very hard to do for me unless something changes. More motivation to write a fantastic grant later in the year...
Sabrina asked the coach, the guy running the clinic, whether she should buy a catcher's glove, and he thought she should. She was leaning toward spending her Dick's gift cards at least partially on a glove, anyway, and even though the coach told me better stuff is available on-line, I think for this year that will be the route we go, simply because I'm not sure I want to spend that kind of money online. Starting in two weeks, Mondays after school there is going to be a practice for just pitchers and catchers, which doesn't bode well for her because she has BCMEA viola practice after school from 3:30 to 4:00, too. But we will make it work somehow. Especially since it is clear that the pitchers she is likely to have pitching on her team want her to be there; KK was at practice yesterday, and Emily apparently is going to be playing for the school teams this year, too (Kayla is still only in sixth grade). I did find out that Sabrina is going to have decent competition as she gets older; her friend Hailey, who is a great player, has been learning to play catcher, apparently. But Hailey goes to East, and it's not a given that Hailey is going to be there come high school--her family almost moved to Endicott this year, and who knows what else might happen in the meantime. I have a good kid with good grades and such, and even I have seen some stuff happen this year with her I never thought would happen. It only takes one knucklehead boy or one bonehead moment to derail a career. I'd like to think that's not going to happen, but you can't be certain...
But one of the things about this age is how much different kids look in a matter of months. I had not seen KK in softball gear since August, and she appears to have grown about 4 inches in six months, to take the most obvious example from yesterday. Her friend Tanaya was at the practice yesterday, too, and she's grown at least an inch (the most changed, though, isn't a softball player; Sabrina's friend Talia has sprouted, from this time last year, a full head taller, almost an entire foot). The last time I saw Hailey, actually, was around Christmas, and she was a good inch or two taller than when I saw her in the summer. Even Sabrina had to get new clothes at Christmas. It's inevitable that children grow at this point in their lives. It's just kind of disconcerting when all of them are doing it at once, it seems.
Anyhow, it's going to be an interesting spring and summer. As I said, with my own future uncertain, I'd like to think that the next few years are going to be wonderful in that aspect, but it's serving as motivation for me to do the best I can do to make that happen. The challenge has been given, and the gauntlet laid down.

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