I've always felt that summer isn't summer without softball, which is one of the many reasons I joined my ward's co-ed softball team this year. I figured it would be an easy way to reconnect with my athletic past and get to know some new people.
I've learned two things from my co-ed softball experience so far.
#1: You can't make up for eight years in one day.
The last time I was on a softball team was during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school. This means that it's been eight years since I've played softball, other than the times I forced my siblings to play catch with me. Those years were loaded with choir, school, and work, so my dreams of stunning the world with my athletic prowess was put on hold for a time.
So I knew I'd be a little rusty, but I was fairly certain that once I got some real dirt on my glove I would show everyone what it really means to play ball like a girl.
But for some reason, the macho skills I had spent 10 years developing didn't come back to me when I returned to the baseball diamond. Every ball I hit went straight to an infielder's mitt. My fielding was mediocre at best. As grounders unexpectedly bounced over my shoulder and as I failed to hit perfectly pitched balls, I would ask myself, "I used to be good at this, right?"
And the sad thing is, I'm not sure I ever was that good--I just thought I was. This is seriously damaging to an ego that thrives on being just as capable as the boys at doing boy things.
#2: Church ball is competitive.
I erroneously assumed that since this was church ball, everyone was here to play for fun, not to win.
I'm not sure why I thought that. Sports, even if they are sponsored by devout Christians, are by very nature competitive.
My team went into our Tuesday game undefeated. The high council speaker had praised our skills at church on Sunday, and the Union Unicorns were stoked for the match-up against the Murray YSA ward, who were also undefeated.
The game was intense. I never thought I would use that term to describe church ball, but there it is. Every other call was disputed (usually by the other team, might I add). Dorky baseball phrases were used as coded instructions. Base coaches took their jobs seriously. By the end of the game, the only thing keeping players civil was the thought of sweet revenge every time the other team scored.
Each team got its dose of sweet revenge, but in the end it came down to the classic Hollywood situation: up to bat, two outs, bases loaded, down by one point. And instead of hitting the ball over the fence and sending us all home, our batter struck out and made the Murray ward annoyingly happy.
It's one thing to say "It's just a game"; it's another thing entirely to shake off a loss that was so close to being a blockbuster win.
One word: Grrrrrrrr.