SPORTS SPOTLIGHT — It’s good softball’s dirty

Toledo’s Ryle Richards is welcomed home after clearing the fence for the 2019 league champion Boomers. Softball teammates are a life-long group of friends — more like sisters — they oftentimes turn to and rely on in those very special times of teen needs. (Photo by A.J. Wawrak)

Playing softball can teach our kids hard lessons, sometimes knocking them down as easily as it lifts them up and gives them a life-long group of friends—really, they're more like sisters—they can oftentimes turn to and rely on in those very special times of teen needs.
Middle and high school softball games are fun to watch. It's hard to narrow it down, but here's just a few things the fun sport of softball can teach everyone about life.Playing oftentimes in the dirt is a prerequisite for middle and high school softball. These girls have to be willing to get dirty — sometimes shedding a little blood or enduring a few raspberry scrapes as they call them.

These do more than just toughen up these girls. Learning to dive for that ball, sacrificing for something larger than yourself, is learning to put self on the line for the team. In this world full of instant teen gratification, taking a few knocks is not exactly a bad thing. There are times when girls strike out in the last inning, allowing the opposing team a win. In that moment it feels like all of the hard work, all the sweat and sacrifice in practice, was for nothing. But here is the finishing kick: The best softball players aren’t necessarily the tiniest, or the skinniest, or the tallest. In fact, the only thing that really matters is how skilled the girl can become at the role she is asked to play. Big hitters need strong legs, outfielders need to learn to cannon their throws and catchers pretty much need it all.

So, if mothers want their daughters to be strong, resilient and selfless, softball is the sport. Softball players have to think ahead, running possible scenarios and preparing to make the right decision under duress and keeping the count better than a casino cheat. Isn’t this much like a preparation for adult life? The parents who travel from game to game, enduring long rides, blowing dust, bad meals summer after summer (sometimes wishing that they were on the beach somewhere in Mexico instead of a blazing hot field in McMinnville) carry those well-traveled camp chairs and ice chests full of cool stuff show their devotion to their kids. These are the purest signs of devotion and love they can display.

Sometimes there is that negative feedback for a bad pitch, a ball through the legs or a muffed catch. Coaches know their girls and know that such play does not make them a bad player. They know that next time they will throw a strike, get in front of the ball and knock it down.

End of story—move on!

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