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Maya: Artist in the Outfield

Aye, aye, AYE.

Maya, my 11-year-old, and this softball thing took a turn for the worst tonight. It is early in the season – (this is her first time ever playing on a team of any sort) and things didn’t go so well on this crisp eve of May (it’s my brother’s birthday today, Happy Birthday Davy!).

She had been doing great and staying right under the radar for the last couple games (they won both). She walked, stole bases and came in to home plate a couple times.
She was so proud of herself. The team had been practicing batting and fielding at the park up to that point but she had no clue how all the pieces came together to make a game. She is still learning as she goes along. Innings, grand slams, pickles – she had no clue!

On the night of the first game, she went up to bat and survived a series of bad pitches.

“Take yer base, batter”, yelled the umpire.

“Huh?” Maya replied in a dumbfounded tone while standing there in her red shiny helmet.

“TAKE yer BASE bat-ter!” said the umpire again.

“Huh?” Maya said again, looking even more confused.

Right then people in the bleachers started yelling: “Take yer Base! Take yer Base”. The sharp commands came from all different directions. Finally Patrick shouted, “Maya! Run to first base!”

Poor little Maya didn’t know what “take yer base” meant. She was also confused when folks in the crowd would say things like “Get a piece of it!”, “Make it yours!”, “Don’t go for the beach balls!” and “Choke up!”. Once we told her it was softball jargon for batters, she asked if we would yell those things at her when she went up to bat instead of me giving her a thumbs up.

The second time she went to bat, she clobbered the ball and got so excited, she stood there and jumped, squealed and cheered for herself.

RRUUUNNNnnnnnnnnnnnn!” everyone shouted at the top of their lungs.

“Oh yah!”, she said as she took off for first base.

“She is really good at playing the guitar…”, I said to the people in our bleachers.

The next time she went up to bat, things were looking iffy. I overheard a parent say, “I hear she plays the guitar really well…”

It was all cute and sweet until tonight. It was just like in the movies – it was the bottom of the last inning, the score was 14-15 and Maya’s team (home) needed to score just two more runs to win. Right before Maya, the batters had already managed to bring in three runs. There were two outs and Maya came up to bat.

A thick air of silence came across our side of the bleachers from people who had just been screaming in joy a few minutes earlier. It was so painful watching Maya in that sticky situation. I felt the same way as when I gave her one last kiss before she went into surgery to get her tonsils out. Uncertainty.

The pitches started coming across the plate…

“STeeee-RIKE one!”
“Ball one”
“Ball two”
“Ball three”

“You can do it Maya”, I yelled. “Focus!” (In my mind I was crossing my fingers she would walk)

The next ball came and it was as high as a beach ball (now I get it) and my homegirl SWUNG! And missed.

“Strike three, you’re OUT batter!”

The other team showed off their victory dance while Maya’s team slinked out of the dugout. Ouch. My baby technically lost the game for the team. It was only the second game and a lot of other chicas struck out too, and the pitchers walked a lot of opponents, but none of that helped Maya feel any better. “I feel like they are all gonna talk about me behind my back,” she said. Girl didn’t even go to the snack bar to get her free snow cone! “I don’t deserve it,” she said. Insert violin music here…

This weekend we are going to the batting cages for Operation Grand Slam.

However, I must add that last night she got to play her first electric guitar. Not only did she jam on it, but she taught Patrick’s guitar player (from his band) the chord structure to “Smoke on the Water”.

In my book, that qualifies as a home run.

* All content/photos copyright, © Kathy Cano-Murillo, 2008.

Vivica A. Fox

My kitchen is the color of Shrek’s complexion.


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