Ever since I was young I've been a catcher. From the time I began playing until now I've worn masks and held a catcher's mitt in my hand. They could see it, the fans. They knew from the moment I squatted down behind home plate for warm ups that I was going to be good. More than good. I, Casey Hamilton, was going to be great.
I walk up to the plate with a bead of sweat racing down my face. I take a deep breath, look up to God, and pray for something good to happen. My eyes dart for the coach, giving me my signs. There's two outs, bases loaded. 9-5, we're losing. Now or never. I know I can do this, I've done it so many other times before. I sigh once more, and finally take my place in the box. I relax until the pitcher is finally ready to make her move. I can heard my heart pounding right out of my ears.
She's going inside, to back me out. Then she'll pitch outside to get me to chase.
First pitch: inside. Ball one.
Second pitch: outside. Ball two.
Now she'll be frustrated, and pitch it right down the middle.
Third pitch: right in the heart of the plate. Line drive into right field. I immediately sprinted out of the box, hoping with all of my might that the right fielder didn't catch it. Two outs, last chance to score. As I was rounding first, I did as I was always taught not to; I glanced over at the ball. It was on the ground rolling all the way to the fence. I looked the other way; two runs had scored already, and the third was just about rounding third. Make that three RBI.
My breaths were short and quick, my mind focused on third base. The crowd: blocked out. My teammates screams: blocked out. Third base: just steps away. I can do it. Next thing I know I'm on the ground, my body sliding flawlessly against the dirt. My hand slams against the base, a glove slaps against my back. Now it all remains on the umpire. Am I safe or am I out?
In one fluid motion the ump makes a fist and pounds it in the air. I'm out.
I slam my fist against the dirt. That's it. We lost. We lost because of me. Because I had to look over at the ball, just to make sure it wasn't caught. Because I did what slowed every base runner down; I lost focus.
I get up, but I don't want to even hear what my coach and my team has to say. See, whenever anybody else has bad base running, or flies out in an important situation, they always get "Don't worry about it. You'll get it next time." But, whenever I have bad base running, or I fly out in an important at bat, I get "Casey, use your head. You know how to control your bat and your feet. I never want to see you do that ever again."
My third base coach, Aaron, is already in the dugout, talking to the other coaches. Great. Now all three of them are talking about me. I step into the dugout, and try to remain as invisible as humanly possible, but, of course, if you just lost the game, that's impossible.
"Hey, Case. It's okay. The ump made a bad call anyway." My best friend, fellow first baseman, Kelsey, said to try to make me feel better.
"No, Kels, it's not okay." My stubborn self demanded, "We lost because I made a stupid move trying to go to third."
I felt someone bump into my shoulder. "Oh, hey there Casey! Didn't see you there." Jessica.
"Do you mind not making Casey feel like shit right now? Or is that too much to ask of you." Oh, Kelsey. I love her.
"Hey, Hamilton. Nice going, didn't know a catcher had the guts to try for a triple." She smirked and walked away.
Kelsey sighed and said, "Typical Jessica. Just ignore her, Casey. You want to walk home with me?"
"Sure." I tried and tried to hold in my anger and save it for the walk home.
I showered, changed into my Under Armour sweatshirt, some dark jeans and Nike tennis shoes. I wasn't exactly the most stylish girl in school, but I've seen worse. I packed up my things in my bag, put the catchers gear in the coach's bag, and tried to sneak out of the building without getting noticed.
"Casey," Damn it. "You know you're not getting out of here just yet." It was coach Bryce.
I turned around with a defeated look on my face. I had to make something up. "Me? Oh, I wasn't leaving I was just-"
"I know what you were doing. Come into my office."
I walked into his office and, what a surprise, found the other two coaches there, also. I sat down but literally couldn't stand being in a room with any of these people.
"Casey, what the hell were you thinking out there?" Aaron sternly asked. "You know you can't run that fast."
I just looked at him, awed. "You, too? And what if I stayed at second, huh? I'm sure you'd be mad if I would've settled for a double."
They all looked at me. They knew it was true, but they couldn't admit it.
"Okay, I have a question. Why is it that whenever I do something wrong in the game, I always have to come in here and talk for hours, but whenever somebody else does something wrong, they can just leave with a few encouraging words? Huh? Because it's starting to make me mad. Why do I get yelled at, and everybody else doesn't? Please, feel free to tell me."
Bryce, Aaron, and Amy all looked at each other, almost shocked that I said anything at all. It was an awkward silence, and I kept my face emotionless. I was serious, and it pissed me off. Bryce pissed me off, Aaron pissed me off, and Amy pissed me off.
Finally Bryce broke the silence. "We treat each and every player different. Some players need special attention, some need more encouragement. Some can handle more than others." he paused, "That would be you."
Amy, the first base coach, spoke up, "Casey, don't take this the wrong way, but you're the leader of this team. The glue. You keep this team together. Whether you like it or not, leaders have to overcome more than everybody else. Live with it."
"She's right," Bryce said, "without you, there wouldn't be a team. We rely on you to use your fucking brain, and when you can't do that, you let us all down. Understand?"
I looked at them, jaw-dropped. I couldn't stand any of them right now, and I definitely wasn't in the mood to talk about what happened today. "Is that all then?" I finally managed to say.
"One more thing." Aaron said. I looked at him. "Triples aren't for catchers. Stick to doubles."
I walked out without saying another word.
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