Late yesterday morning the mid-level unified Delaware County Special Olympics softball team, the Stars, made their appearance at the state softball tournament in Indianapolis.
Despite heroic efforts from our county organizers, two athletes did not show up to the tournament and the Stars were forced to forfeit the game. However, we borrowed a player from the low-level team and used our playing time to play an all-in-good-fun game with the Hamilton County Strikers.
The highlight of the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning. We were down 14-4, and if we couldn't score a run, the Strikers would win by mercy killing. After a quick out, I found myself at the plate. I blooped on over the second baseman's head for a base hit. I would end up 3-for-4 on the game with--count 'em--TWO balls leaving the infield.
Then Jerry, who isn't much of a softball player anyway but who also didn't show up to a practice all season, did the most unlikely of things and hit the ball into the no-man's land in front of third base. The opposing pitcher, muscles rippling, grasped the ball with his perfectly tanned arm and, as our eyes met across the infield, he hesitated on the throw and I was safe at second.
Glen, who is less “a softball player” and more “the guy who drives the bus” came through with a ground ball that the shortstop bobbled, scoring the lead runner (me!) from second and extending the game. We would play a regulation seven innings in our time allotment, the first time we've ever done such a thing.
Other highlights included our shortstop catching a liner so hard-hit that the base runner felt the need to give him a high-five, a six-pitch inning (for the good guys!), and a throw from an outfielder resulting in a runner being out at second.
Even though we lost something like 15-6 and came in fourth in our four-team division (or would have if we hadn't forfeited), we were pleased with our performance and not at all bitter about accepting our bronze medals. I've got it hanging on the wall in my office to allow all to bask in the glory that is the Special Olympics medallion. No one's actually come by to see it yet, but I imagine they're just being polite and hanging back to let everyone else go first.