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Not our best practice last night. For whatever reason, the girls weren't very focused and a couple of infielders particular couldn't catch the ball. We still got some good work in, but not without a bit of frustration.

My lead off hitter/shortstop showed up to practice limping from something that happened in PE, so she spent the practice with an ice pack on her knee. Then my daughter tweaked her knee in warm ups (she's had a lot of knee problems this season, but she's gone through a pretty big growth spurt, so hopefully her fragile knees are a temporary condition), so she also sat out practice icing her knee.

We did have a player from the Meerkats show up for our practice today, which was cool since two of my infielders were suddenly out of practice.

After batting stations, we sent the outfielders with coach Ray and David and I worked with the infield. We both acted as base runners in the middle of a play, and I would toss the ball to one of the infielders while we ran. Their job was to either get the ball ahead of the lead runner or to the pitcher if there was no play. If the ball went to a fielder, then they tried to execute a good rundown and either get an out or move the runner back to the base behind him. This was a pretty good drill, and after a few times all the fielders were making good decisions and rotating to cover holes caused by run downs. We finished by reviewing pick offs to third (using my backup catcher).

Then we played the bunting game. It had been a few weeks since we had done so, and BOY were the girls rusty with bunt coverage. Good thing no other team in the division bunts very much or we'd be in big trouble. We'll definitely play the bunting game again at our next practice.

I will have to go out of town on Wednesday for business, so hopefully the team will play well in my absence. I reminded them that I have not hit, caught or thrown a single ball in a game this season, so it shouldn't matter if I'm there or not on Wednesday.


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Made it safe and sound to Phoenix, and while away, a rain storm broke out back home, so the game yesterday was canceled due to rain!

I'm sure my girls would have done fine without me, but it's nice to know that I didn't miss a game.


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Well, back safe-and-sound from my business trip. Locally, we had lots of rain on Wednesday (game canceled) and Thursday (practice canceled), so I didn't didn't miss anything!

Saturday, we've got a game against the Meerkats, and then we finish the game from earlier in the season against them when the game was called because of darkness and we were down by a bunch of runs. Hopefully, we'll come out of Saturday with 2 wins.


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Phew -- got a few new gray hairs yesterday. The Meerkats came ready to play, and their pitcher pitched what I think was her best game of the season against us.

Unfortunately, the parent that keep the score book took it home with him by mistake, so I don't have the stats in front of me. This means that I'm going to have to rely on my memory to write about the game -- never a good thing! :-)

We were home team, and our pitcher (who had another sleepover the night before!!) looked sharp, getting through their first 4 batters giving up only 1 hit. Then we got up, and we scored two runs with two outs culminated with a bunt single by our catcher that drove in a run.

After our first inning, though, our pitcher wasn't nearly as sharp as she normally looks, and her velocity was WAY down, reducing the effectiveness of her peel drop and her change up. They scored 4 over the next two innings to tie the score 4-4, and then our offense took charge.

We scored 5 runs in the bottom of the fourth, showing really good patience at the plate when their pitcher got a little wild. With the bottom of their order up and time running out, I liked our chances. But with our pitcher exhausted (you should have seen the bags under her eyes!), she was almost a slow pitch pitcher by this point, and their hitters started making contact and getting seeing-eye hits. We helped them by making a couple of errors. We gave up 6 runs before the damage was done.

So we go into the bottom of the 5th down by 1 run with the bottom 6 of our order up. All season long I have been saying that we need production from the bottom of our order for us to be successful. Here was a perfect chance to see if I was right.

I'm going to have to update this thread when I get the score book to give the exact sequence of how we scored two runs with two outs, but they got the job done with a couple of walks and back-to-back singles by my 11th and 12th batters that scored the tying and winning runs.

Unfortunately, we couldn't celebrate because we had to finish the game from early March that was called because of darkness with us down by 7 runs. With our last at-bat up (and the bottom of our order up again), our first batter walked, but the next got out with a strikeout and two ground outs. It would have taken a lot of luck for us to win that second game, and I was thankful for the comeback win we did get.



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We've got the best team in the league...when they come focused and ready to play. Yesterday was not one of those days, at least the first three innings.

Our warm-ups were atrocious, so much so that the other team was laughing at us. Really. It was like the first day of practice or something. Couple that with the fact that my pitcher was sick with the cold and maybe at 75%, and you can see where this is going.

The first three and a half innings weren't pretty, and we were down 8-0 going into the bottom of the 4th (we were home team). When they came off the field, I reminded them that this was a softball GAME, not softball work or softball torture, and I wanted them to start having fun. I challenged them to focus on doing things better than the Ninjas from that point forward and they responded.

We outscored them 5-0 from that point forward, so we finished strong, but it was definitely a game of "woulda, coulda, shoulda".


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Well, this game was more like it. The girls showed up focused from the get go and played MUCH better. Of course, we were playing the Deadly Dinosaurs -- the team we played with 8 players, and the team we played when my starting pitcher had to leave the game after 3 batters, so I should just expect bad pitching luck...

My starting pitcher couldn't play because she had a fever and missed school. No worries -- we can still win if we play good defense and hit well. For the first time this season, the top of our lineup went down 1-2-3. Not exactly the start I was looking for.

Then in the bottom of the first after the first three of their batters, my catcher tweaked her knee. She could stand on it and walk with a slight limp, but she couldn't squat without a lot of pain. NOW what to do? My backup pitcher is also my backup catcher. Fortunately, before warm ups, I had my daughter try to pitch using a sling shot motion just in case I needed her and she was throwing around the plate, so I moved her to pitcher and moved my back-up pitcher to catcher.

She did pretty well, and was barely throwing faster than a slow-pitch pitcher which threw off their batters. We gave up only two runs the first inning and neither team scored the second inning.

I liked my team's effort so far, but though we were hitting the ball, we weren't hitting it with authority. All season long we have been focusing on hitting strikes hard, but with little practice over the past couple of weeks, we were reverting back to old habits. I told the team before the third inning that we were playing great, but I wanted us to start hitting the ball hard.

Boy howdy did we. We had maybe the best half inning of the season. Our bottom 4 batters were up, and they went walk, hit, error, hit and tied the score. With the top of our order up and runners on 2nd and 3rd, our leadoff batter walked, and then our next batter hit a ball that their center fielder caught and we got doubled up at second (in spite of me yelling "BACK!!!!!!!!!!" -- grumble Grumble GRUMBLE!!).

So with 2 outs and the score tied, our third batter in the lineup walked, then my gimpy catcher-now-pitcher hit a rope single that drove in two runs, and then...

We've been working with our slapper to hit regular as well, and for the past couple of games I've been letting her swing away. However, she was starting to get confused and neither hit nor slap well, so I told her before the game that we would focus on slapping the rest of the season, and I'd work with her after the season on her regular hitting. But when she came up, the infield defense was playing her WAY in, so I gave her the signal to hit regular, and she swung away and got her first regular hit of the season, right over the third baseman's head. She drove in a run, and then...

Our smallest player on the team has one of the best swings, but being so tiny, she usually walks and when she does hit the ball, they are usually grounders. She's gotten a couple of hits this season, but no extra base hits...until now. She crushed a ball to right that the right fielder couldn't catch and got a double (her first ever!), driving in a run!! That was 6 runs with everyone hitting, and 4 runs scored with 2 outs. We have a 6 run inning mercy rule (which I hate), so we were done, but what a performance by our hitters!!

Then my daughter lost the strike zone and walked 5 and gave up 2 hits so that we were mercy ruled in turn. Then each team scored 1 in the fourth (I put in my emergency-emergency pitcher, who is normally my shortstop). We were down by 2 with time expiring, and we could only score one run in the top of the fifth. Final score: 8-9 Dinosaurs.

All things considered, we played great. This loss drops us to 2nd place for the first time this season, but we play the Ninja Spiders (the current first place team) in a double header Saturday. If we win both games, we secure first place for the season no matter what happens the last game. If we show up ready to play Saturday like we did for this game, I like our chances.


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Oh wow! Here I am all set to write about our double header yesterday, and I realize I didn't write about our Thursday practice, which happens to be my favorite practice each season. Sorry about that!

I got the idea for Thursday's practice from one of the best Softball books out there, "Coaching Fastpitch Softball Successfully (2nd ed)" (click here to read my review), and for the past couple of years I've been doing it on the last practice of the season. It is a GREAT way to finish out the season.

Technically, Thursday wasn't the last practice of the season, but All-Star tryouts are this weekend and my All-Star players will be practicing with their new team next week, so this was our last practice with the whole team there. Our last practice will be on Monday with our last game on Tuesday.

After warmups, we ran through batting stations really quickly. With the recent rain and rescheduled games, we just have not gotten much practice time the past few weeks and our girls were starting to slip back into some bad preseason habits. It was good to give them some instruction again. I miss practices!!

Then we did our special end-of-season team building. In "Coaching Fastpitch Softball Successfully (2nd ed)", they call it "The Circle" (page 190), but our girls were all seated in the back of a pick up truck. We three coaches talked about the positive things that each girl brought to the team, where they had improved, and generally how awesome we thought each player was. Then, before we moved to the next player, teammates chimed in and told that player what THEY liked about her and how awesome they thought she was.

It took about 45 minutes to go around the entire team, and then we turned them loose on pizza and drinks. Every season I do this practice, and I love it, but this team had such great heart and attitude that it was pure joy (and really easy) to go on and on about each player. Specifically:

Ashley -- The heart and desire of a champion. Started off the season as a newbie pitcher, and quickly became one of the best pitchers in the league. Can go as far as she wants in the sport. Also a great hitter and great fielder.

Courtney -- almost didn't play this season because she didn't think she was good enough. Has turned into one of the best hitters in the league and can play anywhere (and has!). A true team player and leader.

Emma -- Great, GREAT attitude. Cannon for an arm and one of the best fielders on the team. Nice swing, blazing speed and willing to accept any role given to her. Always smiles and tries her best.

Hannah -- a basketball player at heart, but already has the tools to play at the next level in Softball. ALWAYS hustles. Always smiles. One of the best athletes and nicest persons I've ever coached. I love to watch her run!

Kinley -- A true leader. One of the hardest workers I've ever seen and a natural, gifted softball player. Another player who's future is so bright, she has to wear shades. Biggest improvement this season was her confidence.

KK -- Made HUGE strides this season, particularly on the mental side of the game. Another player with all the tools and can go far in the sport. Usually the first one at practice and always ready to do extra work to get better.

Kylee -- Changed our season around and made the team much better with her play at 1st base. ALWAYS hustles, always gives 100%, and always smiles. Great glove with a good arm and can hit well and bunt well. A great teammate.

Makenna -- One of our new players who grew so much this season. Always has a smile on her face and did a great job learning how to slap hit this season. Always willing and wanting to learn. Has a real passion and love for the game.

Olivia -- Our smallest player, but with one of the biggest hearts. One of the best natural swings on the team. Huge improvement over the season in all areas, particularly defensively. Always has a smile on her face and works hard.

Sam -- Always smiling, always has a great attitude, and always willing to listen. Big improvements in her batting, particularly toward the end of the season. Very strong arm and made big improvements in her accuracy this season.

Sarah -- Our other newbie player, who now crushes the ball every time she hits it. An excellent outfielder who is always thinking and backing up plays. A GREAT personality who really warmed up as the season progressed!

Sydney -- A great player and a great teammate. Can hit with power, one of the best bunters I've ever had, has great speed, and one of the best gloves on the team. ALWAYS smiling and cheerful and always works hard.


I can't believe the season is almost over. I have said since the first practice that I really love this team, and I'm going to hate to see them go.


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What a great Saturday of Softball it was. Our only double header of the season (due to a rescheduled game) and we, as the 2nd place team, were playing the first place team with the title on the line. If we won both games, we'd win the division outright no matter what happened the last game. If we won one of two, then we'd have to wait to see how the other team did their last game to find out if we finished the season in first or not.

We were visitors, and our girls came ready to play. We jumped out to a 6-1 lead after the first inning and coasted to an 11-8 victory that wasn't really that close. They only outscored us one inning, the third, where they scored 4 to our 2 runs and we matched runs every other inning.

My catcher's knee was still bothering her enough that she couldn't catch, but could play out in the field. For the first time in 2 years, she played in the field instead of catcher. She played as my utility player, and played 3rd, SS, 2nd, and CF and played brilliantly. I was actually blown away at how comfortable she looked at each position with absolutely no practice.

So now the entire season comes down to one game, and we were visitors again. This time the first inning ended 1-1, but we were making some physical and mental errors. To make a long story short, we lost 10-4 and only 3 of their 10 runs were earned. It wasn't that my girls were physically tired, but they just weren't as mentally sharp as they were the game before. They all learned how hard it is to win both games of a double header, especially if we're the visiting team both times.

I would be remiss if I didn't call out the coaches for the Ninja Spiders today, as I thought their behavior toward the umpire was reprehensible. They were whining about every single ball/strike call that didn't go their way and saying things like "Throw it right down the middle -- that's the only way to get a strike", "How could that pitch have missed?", and such -- loud enough that my parents on the other side of the diamond heard it all. The umpire was the model of patience and warned them several times to knock it off. The assistant coach almost got ejected because she left the dugout to stand behind the backstop and watch the pitches. The fact that these coaches were also our League President and Vice President made the matter that much worse. They were, frankly, terrible examples to the 23 girls on the playing field. I recommend that they read Dealing with Softball Umpires and learn to become classy instead of crybabies.

Anyways, it looks like we'll finish the season in 2nd place. The Ninja Spider's opponents on Wednesday won't have their starting pitcher, so it would be a miracle if they lost. We will have practice Monday and then our last game will be on Tuesday. We'll do closing ceremonies on Saturday and then our team party that afternoon, and that will be that.

I am so proud of this team. We beat the first place team 3 out of 5 times in the season, and besides our double header loss, the only time this team lost was when our starting pitcher couldn't play or had a fever when she played. Our tie came when we were playing with 8 players. We'll finish in 2nd place, but there's no doubt in my mind that we were the best team in the league.


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Tuesday was the last game of the season for us, and we had to win to have a chance at first place for the season. Our players were excited, but pretty focused. We went through our pre-game routine, were ready to go..........and no umpire!

I'd seen this bad movie before -- the same thing happened a previous time we played, and the wheels came off for us. The girls lost their edge waiting for the umpire, my pitcher's arm tightened up resulting in our having to use our emergency pitcher, and ultimately getting stomped pretty badly.

At least last time an umpire eventually showed up. This time we had to use a couple of parents as umpires. We started playing about 20 minutes later than scheduled, and before we went back onto the field, I reminded our girls about the last time this happened, and that I wanted them to focus on focusing on the game. I needn't have worried!

We were home team, and ahead 4-3 after 2 1/2 innings. Our defense was playing GREAT with 0 errors. While we weren't hitting as well as we could, we were in control of the game. We scored 4 runs the next two innings and held them scoreless, and that was that.

Our pitcher wasn't her sharpest at the start of the game, but she got stronger and stronger as the game went on, and the last two innings she was as sharp as she had been all season, so that was good to see.

My catcher, who was snubbed for All-Stars (long story -- suffice to say that adults can be much bigger babies than the players can ever be), had a great day, and finished up with a perfect throw to second to get out the runner stealing second for the penultimate out of the game. It was great to see the smile on her face when she came off the field!

Our defense looked as good as it did all season. Zero errors for the game, and a lot of really nice plays.

Their pitcher was off, and our batters showed really good patience, but hit really well. Our first baseman hit her first double of the season (Yay!!) and our left fielder got her first multi-hit game of the season.

It was tough to address the team after the game. I had more fun with this team than ever, and they played their hearts out all season long, and against long odds.

We ended up finishing second (the Ninja Spiders won their last game on Wednesday, clinching first), but played 3 games without our starting pitcher (losing 3 of our 4 games in the process). We were the only team to have winning records against the other three teams, and the only team to have a winning record against the first place team. Overall, we were the best hitting team, particularly against the best pitcher (speed-wise) in the league.

No matter our record, we were the best team in the division.

Congrats for a very successful season to all my players, parents and coaches!


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