There are a few certainties in my life every August.
For starters, I will age. This has been happening every August for as long as I can remember, as it happens to contain my birthday. As a kid, this was a truly beautiful thing. As a teenager, it was still very much a positive, but somehow not as magical. When I turned 30, it became annoying. Now, in my 40s, it seems downright rude. In fact, the last birthday I looked forward to was turning 21, and I can’t even remember anything from that night. Which, in fact, could be a good thing. I was a Marine. A bunch of Marines took me to a bar. At one point, I think there was a chicken, a fire hose and a Tibetan monk ...
But I digress.
Another August certainty I can count on is that my head will take on the form of a stop light. Seriously. I have seen cars come to a screeching halt as drivers get their first glimpse of my rosy dome. I’m pretty vampire-like in that I spend very little time outside during the day, so when I do get my little nugget exposed to sunlight, it tends to crisp faster than thin bacon. And that actually brings me to my next August certainty.
I will spend a good chunk of time sitting on metal bleachers and scribbling into a notebook while I focus all of my attention on two things — adding a little color to my head and covering games at the Senior League Softball World Series in Roxana. It’s hot. Sometimes it rains. And I’ve spent so much time away from home the last week that my super pug Bailey asked me for identification when I got home Tuesday night.
And I absolutely love it.
If you haven’t yet been to see this event at the Pyle Center, please do. The atmosphere is electric for every game, admission is free, the place is kept clean and orderly and the girls playing on the fields are both talented and inspirational. I was sitting at the field the other day with our own Ryan Saxton and we were watching the team from Latin America face off against the team from Emilia, Italy.
The game was pretty one-sided, and Latin America was in complete control. To say that the Italian team was disheartened would be understandable, but completely inaccurate.
They were singing in the dugout, urging on their teammates. They were laughing. They were running to first base after hitting routine ground balls like their hair was on fire — never giving up, and never letting themselves get too down. They were playing softball on a worldwide stage, they were making memories for a lifetime and they were not going to quit or let a bad game ruin their moment.
It was awesome.
I had the priviledge of covering the game between Asia Pacific (Manila, Philippines) and Canada (Windsor, Ontario) on the same day. A batter from Canada hit a routine groundball and sprinted toward first base. The throw to first was a little high and the first baseman had to extend to catch it, leaving herself pretty vulnerable in the process. The runner collided into her and both girls fell in a heap.
The fielder got up a few moments later, but the player from Canada was down a while longer. The entire Asia-Pacific team stood by their opponent while the trainers worked on her, and let loose with genuine applause when the young athlete stood.
It was a good moment.
Of course, it’s also about the softball, and the Tuesday night game between the host District III team from Laurel and the Southwest team from El Campo, Texas, offered one of the more exciting games you’ll ever see. Trailing 2-0 late in the game, the Laurel squad rallied to tie the score, and then got a game-winning hit in the bottom half of the last inning. It was a tight game, featuring great pitching, timely hitting and superb fielding.
The action in Roxana this week will only get better as the field winds down to the top two teams ultimately battling for a world championship on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Bruce Layton Field. Chances are you’ll see Bruce hanging out around the field that day, as well. Say hello to him and thank him for all his efforts in helping get this event to our area. He certainly wasn’t alone in getting this done, but his name on the field says all you need to know.