CHAPTER EIGHT

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19 May 2015

43 days before . . .

I was sweating severely.

The temperature for today was in the high 90s, making me wonder how the baseball boys weren't dying as they warmed up in their long baseball pants. The sun was directly above us, shining its light and heat on us. Knowing how hot it was going to be, I had worn jean shorts and a yellow tank top, trying to alleviate the heat, but it didn't seem to be working because I was nevertheless burning up.

But no matter how I or anyone else was feeling about the weather, it was a great day to play baseball. The sun was shining down on the dirt and grass, presenting that familiar feeling of sweaty, hot baseball. The chattering of the crowd and the salty smell of sunflower seeds added to the effect.

More people than last game had come to support the boys, filling our stands completely, which was a good thing since the other team's crowd was so small. We'd be able to overpower them easily.

Across the field from our boys, the Yates Yellow Cardinals were warming up, and they looked good.

Nevertheless, I was excited, as was Jeanine, who was sitting next to me. Together, we were trying to determine who Yates' strongest and weakest players were.

"The one on the end looks good," Jeanine mutters to me, pointing at a big, brown-haired boy who was throwing bullets to his partner as they warmed up. After a few more throws, we watch as he starts to warm up pitching, and we're surprised to find that his pitches are much faster than his wicked fast throws. We watch as he throws two perfect curveballs in a row.

Jeanine and I look at each other concernedly.

"He's faster than Lucas," Jeanine states, her eyes wide with concern.

I nod my head. "Yeah, he's more complex too," I add. "Lucas only has a fastball, change up, and knuckleball."

We watch as the Yates' pitcher throws a fastball, rise, curve, screw, and change up, in that order.

Jeanine's eyes wander to our boys, who are still happily warming up. "I really hope they get this one this year. Sam was so devastated when they lost last year."

I nod my head, my eyes immediately finding Logan as he warms up with a guy named Paulo. "Logan was devastated too," I answer, remembering last year when they'd lost the championship and received second. "For the days after, he wouldn't quit talking about the game -- what he'd done wrong, what he'd done right. What he could have done to help the team better. It was sad."

"Very sad," Jeanine agrees, her eyes focused on Sam as she worriedly bites her lip.

We watch as the team splits up then, half of them going to the dugout to get their batting stuff while the other half goes to field their hits.

Not wanting to think about the possibility of last year happening all over again, I smile and encouragingly say, "They're good at adapting though. They'll adapt to the speed of the pitcher and their defense will hold them up. It'll be okay."

Jeanine looks at me, her eyes getting a little more bright. "You're right," she agrees. "They've just got to keep their heads up and bats going."

I nod my head at her and we turn back to the field. Confidence is key.

My eyes search around for Logan, and I find him waiting next in line to bat. He's laughing with Paulo and Sam, who are both laughing too. I can tell even from this distance that they're all excited. Logan keeps going up and down on his tippy toes while he talks, something he does when he's excited. He also keeps running his hand through his hair, which is something he does when he's nervous.

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