Your body is not made to throw like we throw. That's why you see softball pitchers pitching two or three games a day. It's a natural movement in softball. In baseball it's not a natural movement.
– Jamie Moyer
When it comes to most anything, I really fall short when it comes to being a motivator. In the office, it's often a necessity things get done rather than some inspirational or creative speech.
Much the same carries over on the softball diamond. I can't help myself, though. I'm absolutely hooked on the sport and making young ladies more skilled in the ways of softball.
My fourth year of coaching softball – my first in 10-and-under – is coming to a close, but I couldn't be more proud of our scrappy team. Heading into the end-of-the-season tournament, it's all beginning to clock despite going 2-6 on the season.
Many might consider a 2-6 record a failure, but that word is not in our vocabulary.
From where we were at the beginning of the season, from top to bottom, we are a better team now.
We have two first-year pitchers, who have come a long way this season with their progress. And with one of those pitchers also our starting catcher, we have seen our starting second baseman step in behind the plate and do well.
Along the way and during the same week, we suffered the loss of both our shortstop and third baseman to growth plate fractures. The girls who stepped in and filled the void did extremely well. And unfortunately that's sometimes part of the game.
Two of my players are sisters, and to see them go from not even knowing the difference between a ball and a strike to getting hits and stealing bases has been truly inspirational.
One of those sisters was faced with two outs and two strikes in the last inning with bases loaded. She was the go-ahead run. Well she fouled off the next two pitches before sending the third foul into the catcher's mitt to end the game.
Sure, we lost the game, but she hung in there and battled one of the best pitchers in the league. She did it without fear and with conviction. That's what this game is all about, not the wins and losses.
I don't think I could be more proud of this entire team and the adversity it has faced and overcome during the past three months.
But when it comes to motivation, I tend to leave it to my assistant coach John Gravely, who has been a Godsend. I even caught myself telling the girls, "The game is simple. You throw the ball; you catch the ball; you hit the ball."
Sound familiar? Yep, it's from the classic baseball movie, "Bull Durham." I even nicknamed my catcher Crash, which is now awkward since she also pitches. Maybe someday, when they're old enough, they'll discover the classic, and it will all click.
Nicknames are common on my teams. In addition to having Crash, there's Goof, Pickle, A-train, Superstar, Bomber, String Bean, Cricket, Mad Mac and Plankton. I have but one more nickname to give out, and that's for my own daughter.
So by this time next week, this season will be over, and sights will turn to all stars and travel ball for some and preparations for fall ball for others. In between lies a tournament to end the season, and I like our chances despite our seeding.
Whatever happens, I have enjoyed spending my spring with Kendall, Lexi, Bailey, Annalee, Savannah, Madison D., Madison M., Mary, Gracie, Camille and Avery.
You guys are my motivation and inspiration.
Jared Felkins is The Democrat's director of content. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow nim on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.