Dear Diary,

In high school, I was a damn good softball player on a damn good girls’ fast-pitch team. We went to state finals in our first year as a sanctioned high school sport, and we were pretty formidable for the rest of my career. I was the starting center fielder, and nothing got by me.

Okay, mostly nothing. But who doesn’t like to remember the glory days with a little extra embellished glory?

I dove for everything that was possibly within my reach, and I caught most of them. I could dive, catch, roll, pop up, and double someone out at third in my sleep. (That might explain some of my back issues at 53, who knows? I can’t even roll out of bed these days, let alone “pop up” anywhere.)

But there was one thing I was never allowed to do.

I was never given the “hit away” sign at the plate. My job was to bunt, to drag bunt, or to wait out a walk. As a leftie, I could pull a bunt all the way to first base, but Coach Watson forbade me to swing my bat unless we were winning by a huge margin.

“Hodge,” he’d say during batting practice, “I’ll never figure out why you have to go here…” and he’d hitch his bat-holding hands down to his hips… “To go here.” He’d finish with a perfectly executed swing. “It’s too much movement. Just stop.”

But I couldn’t stop. I was always a little extra. My swing was ingrained in me from my earliest days at the Hancock County Boys Club when I was just trying to make myself formidable in the eyes of the boys who didn’t want a girl to play with them.

I only hit one over the fence when I was in high school, and it was during practice. I wanted a parade, but only a handful of teammates even noticed.

I wasn’t fast, either, so stealing bases was not my forte. I was strong—I could throw a runner out at home from centerfield—but speedy? Nope.

Enter my adult life.

It seems that life imitates sport in some ways, doesn’t it? At least in my case it does.

Those of us who write dream about that six-figure, Big Five deal, but so very few of us achieve it. Instead, those of us who are further down in the lineup drag bunt our way to the highest level of success we can achieve—an essay here, an indie publisher there—until we round third and head toward home.

It hasn’t been a speedy journey for me. In fact, it’s been a ridiculously slow one. I mean, I wrote my first book when I was eight. At 53, I’m still waiting for someone to purchase the movie rights.

But the great thing about a batting lineup is that as long as the game is still in play, you’ll get another chance at-bat. And who knows what will happen that next time around?

Maybe Coach Watson will stand at third and give me the coveted “hit away” sign. Maybe I’ll connect with my rebel spirit and swing away regardless. I like to break the rules once in a while. And maybe—just like that day in after-school practice—I’ll hit one over the fence.

The beauty of the whole game is in the possibility. That’s why I love playing.

(Queue the John Fogerty.)



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