Monday, July 02, 2007

Hitting for Fuddruckers: The diary

Just returned from a big girls softball tournament in Carlisle, Pa., and we saw some awesome hitting displays, not so much by our 16u team but certainly from a Delaware team and one or two Pa. teams. Parents of travel players have to enjoy a hearty adventure, because it is. Late games, early games, heat, sun, dust, cargo, warmups... But the growth in skills and the little personal victories are addicting. More importantly, we ate at Fuddruckers (New Haven County's motto should be: No great chain restaurants). Other places have top-rated chains, like this one. We also enjoyed an Applebee's, which CT. does at least have.
Stayed two nights in Chambersburg, which smelled funky when the horse trailer was parked near the front of the Comfort Inn and the weather was showery. I had to light a cigar to help. A parent from one of the other Ct. teams had a flat tire, two nights in a row if I'm not mistaken (either that or I was living "Groundhog Day"). We moved to a motel in Carlisle to be closer to the fields, with several families.
Overnight in Carlisle, apparently, some clowns got in a fight and one guy was shoved in front of a moving rig at the truck stop near the Holiday Inn, killing him. I slept through it. Our patchwork squad of central-Conn. Wildcats did pretty well. We were leading a couple of top teams into the 5th or 6th inning and we also rallied and won a few games before elimination Sunday. Our wide-ranging centerfielder suffered a knee injury in a go-kart accident Saturday night (don't get me started), so Sunday we stuck her in left where she made a limping-reaching grab of a line drive and turned a double play. The girl we stuck in center (my kid actually) played only one inning of outfield in high school but went on a tear out there, tracking balls 30 feet over her head into the gap and firing the ball in as if she knew what she was doing. That was chuckle-headed fun.
Gamesmanship? The team that knocked us out of nationals last year still likes to come up to home plate with their whole team instead of just captains. So I spotted that and quickly directed our whole squad into the left batter's box. Umps enjoyed it. It was one of the many fun moments for the girls, too.
The last coach we played from a New York state team didn't bother to come out with his two captains at home plate, which sort of ticked me off (it doesn't take much). So I enjoyed it very much when our lefty hitter pretended to be a slapper as she approached the batter's box to hit in the third inning. I even yelled out, "C'mon, slapper!" Their three outfielders moved in 20 feet and she hit a bomb over their heads. "Well that worked well!" I said too loud as she cruised into third. Youngest player Holli from Wallingford also hit a bomb past the team that took us for chumps (yeah, we had some errors). After they won, their coaches suddenly found the energy to be in line to shake hands. I think character is better measured when things don't go your way. "Should I go sit down and ignore them?" I asked fellow coach Joe C. "Nah, be a sport," he said. "Ohh-kay, I will, but I'm not looking them in the eye."
On the way back home we found a Panera bread eatery in central Pa. among the rolling hills and farmland beautifully lit by a late-afternoon sun. Tasty. I bought a loaf of semolina bread with sesame seeds that must weigh five pounds, too. It's going straight to my waistline. I should just skip eating it and tape it on. I fear other parents were caught in traffic at the Tappan Zee Bridge, where a watermelon truck crashed, caught fire and spilled cargo into oncoming lanes. Luckily I had decided to take the thruway to I-84 in Brewster. Both sides of the TPZ were closed down. Not what you need during a five-hour drive, when your own melon needs to hit a pillow at home.

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