It’s his turn. He steps up to the plate. He has been preparing for this moment for months. He heeds the advice he has been given from his peers: “just go for it” or “have no fear.” He’s still a bit nervous. He’s been waiting for this day. He’s been itching to show what he’s got, to show what he’s learned. He stares down the other player, so sure of his next move. He pounds the bat against the dirt-covered ground and taps it on the bottom of his foot. He stands confidently with an intense look in his eye. The image of a victory replays over and over in his head. With the goal so close ahead, he can’t afford to screw it up. He can’t screw it up again.
This isn’t his first go at the win. He’s played this game before. It was years ago with the same players, the same pitcher. It was a vivid image that haunts him everyday. The bases were loaded, bottom of the ninth. The other team was all in, so eagerly awaiting his next swing. They watched to see what he would do. The pitcher watched him closely. The pitcher’s game plan was to simply throw a straight ball. There was nothing much to it. The pitcher specifically threw it that way to see just how he would swing at it. He didn’t even anticipate being at bat; it was his first time out. He had nothing to expect in the real game. All the training in the world couldn’t have prepared him for this. He lifted his bat slowly. He reared it back and swung. He struck out. He ruined his shot.
He remembered this event so clearly. It was his mistake that ruined a good opportunity; a mistake that would always follow him. But now he has another shot. He adjusted his grip on the bat and took a deep breath. He squared his legs, raised the bat and looked to the other player. He’s ready to play this game right.
The pitcher rolls his head to stretch his neck. The pitcher looks back at the rest of the field. No one else is making any sudden moves. The choice is now up to the player. The player grips the ball and raises both arms along with a knee. The perfect pitcher’s stance. The player, with force, allows the ball to go free.
The ball is going and, in the air, makes its way toward the bat. His eyes are on the ball. His eyes widen. He didn’t expect this at all. The ball begins to turn in a circular direction. He began to panic. He was not prepared for this. He gripped his bat even harder. He took a step forward, reared his bat back and swung.
The player threw a curve ball and completely caught him off guard. He got himself ready for a different game, a game he thought he was going to win. When that ball wrapped around the air making a return for the center square, he didn’t know how to react. He swung aimlessly, hoping to have hit the ball across the field. Unfortunately for him the bat never made contact with the ball. He swung the bat and it made a full trip around his body. He turned back to the catcher to see that the ball was within his grasp. He struck out. He looked to the ground and shook his head.
He wiped his forehead with his arm and wiped his mouth with his hand. He took a deep breath. He looked back at the other player and gave a half-smirk. He pounded the bat against the ground again. It was only his first strike. He knows he has another shot to achieve his goal. He begins to get ready for the next swing. And no matter what, he is determined to make his next swing worth it.
He picks up the bat and looks intensely at the other player and waits for the next pitch. This confrontation definitely isn’t over.