She was amazed at her own stamina. Finally pulling into the ninth inning, she had nearly pitched a no-hitter, the first of the season, when a larger girl from the visiting team hit one out of the park. The score was now tied at one run each, and there was already one out on the board. The worst that could happen now was extra innings, and Kimberly Agin was ready for it. Still, if they could get her long time friend, Sara, a beautiful Irish girl, home from second base, it was all over.
The pitch came earlier than expected. Kimberly’s bat nicked the ball and earned her a foul. The sweat beaded up on her brow, and she felt that let down feeling–that at least held out hope for a good hit. Another pitch came early. Although she was ready for it, she missed the knuckle ball by an inch. At least, she imagined that it was just an inch. The catcher sent the ball back, and Kimberly saw the pitcher wind up a third without the customary delay, catching the batter off guard again. This time, she hit the ball… hard.
Her last chance for a run, Kimberly charged at first base as though her wild sprint might draw the attention of the outfielders and give Sara a base. Swinging her arms wildly, Kimberly felt her pony tail swinging frantically as her heart pounded in her chest, running right past the first baseman.
Yet there was no hurry from the outfielders. The pop fly had been caught easily, and Sara had been forced back to second. The long walk back to the dugout felt like a parade of shame. Fans had been let down, and she would be remembered for the loss of the game if it came to that.
As she shuffled into the dugout, blonde haired, clear eyed Alex stepped up to the plate as though there were no stress in the world. Indeed, there had been no stress in Alex’s life of any sort, something that always left Kimberly with some ire. As her eyes adjusted to the unlit dugout, the tall coach, Mr. Fielding, slapped her shoulder supportingly. “Almost a no-hitter,” he added with little enthusiasm. He never showed any, anyway.
Worse, as Kimberly sat down, she heard the crack of a perfect home run hit. There hadn’t even been a foul to precede it. The sound of the home fans cheering loudly left the would be heroine with only disappointment. Trapped in a small, lonely place, she could not even lift her eyes from the dirty wooden floor. At least there was a 3-1 victory for the rest of team.
With loud screaming and jubilation in the stands, fans were running down as though they’d won the World Series. Kimberly couldn’t help but cry all alone, warm tears streaming down her face uncontrolled, the lump in her throat leaving her appropriately mute.
The coaching staff and teammates ran into the dugout still shouting enthusiastic, all facing her in their excitement. Not sure if they were ready to hug her or hack her to pieces, they had hands out, eyes wide open. Dawn and Katey pulled her out by the arms, and several others hoisted her up in front of the cheering crowd. Kimberly could see her friends run in towards her. Still in tears, she felt Alex and Sara get under her and push up on her butt, the coach putting his shoulders under her upper back. The team carried her in front of the fans until they grew tired.