The Baseball Star

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I crack my knuckles as my eyes skim over my teammates in the dugout. Each of us in our own worlds, preparing for when it's our turn at bat.

"Schafer!" Coach Roman waves me over, wrapping his arm around my shoulder and pointing towards the field.

"Bottom of the ninth, with only one base. Just focus on the ball. Let's not let them come to our field and win." He hands the bat, the metal cool in my hands as I adjust my grip.

I have been playing baseball since I can remember. The pep talk isn't needed, but I understand that it is coaches job.

My eyes inadvertently travel to the stands, a faceless sea of red and grey; North Vale highs school colors.

These people came to support us tonight, the least I can do is give them something exciting to cheer for.

I watch the pitcher with narrowed eyes, as I take my stance. I point my bat for outfield, trying to hide my smirk as the crowd cheers for my cocky display.

My eyes catch on Mikey as he inches himself away from his base, itching to steal third.

Just hold on, I'll get us home. 

The pitcher nods and takes his stance, and I hold my breath as my bat swings. My heart pounds when I hear that satisfying ping  of the ball hitting the bat.

Silence. I can't hear anything over the rushing of blood in my ears. My eyes zeroing in on the bases as I drop the bat and run.

I notice Mikey rounding off third heading home and yet the ball is still somewhere in the outfield. The other team scrabbling to get into position to stop one of us when the ball comes back.

The sound of celebrations breaks into my thoughts. Mikey must have crossed home as I just touched down on third.

My feet slide in between two bases, as the pitcher catches the ball. A sly smirk crosses his face. He knows as well as I that we are in a catch twenty two.

I know it would selfish to want to show off, but I want a home run. I don't want to stay on third. If I push it, I could get out. But if I don't I am stuck on third until the next batter.

Hendricks.  That's the next batter and he is not a power hitter. He is predictable in his hits.

My eyes meet the pitchers, a direct challenge at him to make a choice; trap me on third or try to stop me on my way home.

It's all about timing.

His eyes fall to the third baseman and I hold back the smile. He is trying to get me out and he will be disappointed in the outcome.

His arm winds up the throw, and when it is too late to stop it, I take off towards home.

My heart pounds against my rib cage as I run, home plate getting closer and closer with each second.

My cleat taps home base, and a millisecond later, the catcher holds the ball in his glove.

I don't hear the umpires call over the sound of the roar of the crowd. His hands move frantically in front of him indicating safe.

I am pulled into some hugs the second I am near the dugout, but there are so many of them, I don't know which hug belongs to who. All I register is hands.

So many hands; smacking my back, grabbing my shoulders, rubbing my hair. It's almost overwhelming the amount of touching we do in celebration.

"Party at my place!" Caleb yells as we enter the locker rooms to change.

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