The Hitting Zone - Chapter 180

Published at 19th of March 2019 01:28:15 PM
Chapter 180

There wasn't much time to do anything else but to relax . I made sure my shoes were tied and my glove was ready to go for warmups . Then I took off Mr . Atkins jacket and stuffed it into my bag, but I was going to keep my sweatshirt on until I got warm . With my spare time, I looked over my bat and made sure there weren't any cracks or dents I would have to worry about in my first at bat .

Coach really does switch up the lineup every chance he gets . I wonder if Noah's hits encouraged coach to let him hit right before Zeke? I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to bat after Noah, but at least this time I felt more prepared to go up first, knowing that it's all so I can get the most at bats .

In this tournament, we were one of the lowest ranked teams so we would have to be the visitors for every game . Which means having the dugout on the first base side (unless the home team says otherwise) and having to bat first . So even if we were winning, we get to bat the full seven innings .

An hour before game time we started to go through our whole warmup process . We took turns using the field with the other team to practice fielding and throwing . There was a batting cage in the outfield that we also switched off with the other team, making sure to get batting practice in .

Once properly warmed up, I took off my sweatshirt and replaced my hat with my helmet .

"Do your best!" Noah handed me my bat . "I'll be right behind you . " He started to put on his own batting gear .

I left him with a nod and stepped out of the dugout . I surveyed the field filled with Sunset Prep players, doing last minute warmups so their pitcher could throw some practice pitches off the mound . I studied him as he threw a few well placed pitches with speed towards the strike zone .

Finally the umpire called for the balls to be thrown back in, and for me to step up to the plate . For the majority of my hits, I've hit left-handed so with Zeke's advice, I got back in the lefty's box .

As I looked for a safe place to hit the ball, I couldn't help but notice how tall the infielders were and how they offered no gaps to hit through . Popping it over their heads would be a bit difficult given their heights . I got into a comfortable stance to watch the first pitch .

The right-handed pitcher came at me with a curveball that looked to be outside, but it would definitely drop into the strike zone . I tightened my grip and met the ball with my bat as fast as I could, sending it down the first baseline . I dropped my bat at the end of the swing and took off after it .

The first baseman dove but to no avail . The ball snuck past him and the right fielder came in to field it . I safely tagged first, not bothering to round the bag since I had no chance for second .

"One, two, three!"

"BAMBI!" My dugout yelled at me from barely ten feet away, making me flinch . That only resulted in the team laughing some more .

Coach Luis didn't say anything but gave a pat on my helmet to let me know I did well . Mahki stepped up to the plate, and I saw Noah move to the on deck circle, with Zeke in the hole .

Mahki tried swinging on the first pitch like me, but ended up whiffing for strike one . He tried to defend the plate, swinging at anything close, but ended up sending a high fly ball to left field, not giving me any chance to advance .

Noah stepped up next, ready to go . His stance looked steady, his hands were choked up on the bat, and most importantly: he looked confident . He fouled the first pitch back . 0-1 . Good swing . Noah no longer looked off balanced like before . The next two pitches were balls on the outside making the count, 2-1 . I could tell that the speed of the pitches were a bit too fast for him, but he fought hard and fouled off another . And another . Then another ball . 3-2 . The following pitch was up high and well above his strike zone .

"Ball four! Take your base!" The umpire's voice was clear .

Noah lightly tossed his bat to the dugout and ran to first as I jogged to second . I looked back at him with the intention to give him a thumbs up for hanging in there, yet he didn't look happy with the walk and was busy staring at his hands .

I sighed, not fully understanding what he was thinking . We're both on base, with one out, with Zeke up to bat . This is perfect . I checked Miller out by third to see if there would be anything I specifically had to do . He gave a few signs to Zeke, basically telling him to hit as he pleased . Mr . Miller did sign that the runners should go at first contact . Right . Can't waste this run scoring opportunity .

Zeke stepped into the batters box and I began to inch off the second base bag, making sure I was closer to the bag than either of the middle infielders . The pitcher looked back making me freeze, then he looked over his shoulder to check on Noah, who stood calmly two feet off the bag, no trace of nervousness .

The pitcher ignored us, and turned his attention solely on Zeke . He started with a fast inside pitch, which Zeke let him pass by for ball one . The pitcher then threw one in the strike zone, but Zeke let that one pass by as well . 1-1 . The pitcher seemed to gain confidence after the called strike and went after Zeke with another fastball inside that looked like it could pass as a strike . Zeke planted his left foot forward, opening his stance as he started his swing . The barrel of the bat connected perfectly with the ball, sending it well over the infielders .

I reminded myself not to watch the ball, and to watch Mr . Miller . Mr . Miller was waving me on as fast as his arm could go around, trying to tell me I should just sprint all the way home . I complied .

I did my best to round third and run home as fast as I could . . . which isn't too impressive . Garret, who picked Zeke's bat up and got it out of the wave was screaming my favorite phrase, "No slide!"

I touched home and held my hand up for a high five to Garret . Unexpectedly, he grabbed my raised hand and dragged me a few feet out of the way . Before I could ask what was going on, I heard him holler, "The relay is coming!"

I turned and watched just as Noah and the ball were coming to home plate . The catcher stretched out his body to block the plate, while catching the ball on a one hop with his glove, then he turned to tag Noah . Noah slid under his outstretched arms and tagged home plate between the catchers legs .

"Safe! Safe!" The umpire gave the signal for a valid run .

Noah jumped up and held up a fist and the cheering crowd . He found me in Garret's grasp, and sauntered up to us, smiling as wide as ever . "Wasn't that exhilarating?"

I think my heart stopped . That could have easily been another collision . I let out a long puff of air and gave Noah a smile . "Nice . "

Noah laughed and put his arm over my shoulders, dragging me back to the dugout with him . "2-0! Quick lead!"

Garret slapped him on the helmet . "Well done! Take this back with you though . " He handed him Zeke's bat . Then he got in the lefty's box . That's right . The inning wasn't over yet . We still had more chances to score with Garret up to bat and Zeke on second base .

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