Pulling for the girls from Guam

There are so many things to enjoy over at the Senior League Softball World Series in Roxana this week.

The action has been great, as many games have been decided in the last inning. There have been some pretty prodigious homeruns, including one I saw the other day in the game between Latin America and the Tucson team that saw the leftfielder from USA West tumble over the fence trying to make a catch. And it’s just hard not to get caught up in the emotion exhibited by the players, coaches and fans. In short, it’s been great to this point.

As it has each year Roxana has hosted the event.

But what struck me the other day as I was in the stands chewing on my 48th hot dog of the week was how much I enjoy just sitting in the bleachers, taking in some sun, listening to those around me and engaging in conversation with people who are either parents of the players, local people who love softball or players from teams who aren’t playing at that particular time, but still want to watch the other teams.

I’ve been the proverbial fly on the wall.

For instance, the first game I covered this year was the tournament’s first game, pitting the local team from Laurel against a very talented team from New York, representing USA East. It was a great pitching battle with Laurel’s Alison Pusey and East’s Vittoria Adams engaged in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel that Laurel eventually won. The crowd was enthusiastic, as one would expect with two teams that had good crowd support, the excitement of the first game of the Series and the tight contest on the field.

Sitting behind me were several members of the team from Guam, representing Asia-Pacific in the tournament.

Now, one would expect a strategy conversation coming from the girls as they watched the game between two of the top teams in the tournament. You know, like one player noticing that a pitcher took a shorter stride on her changeup or how a batter would keep her hands together on the bat when faking a bunt ... stuff like that.

Nope. This was purely teenagers having fun. They picked on each other. They discussed the weather. They erupted in laughter at each other’s jokes, and eventually had the entire conglomeration of people in the stands laughing right along with them.

I had my favorite team of this year’s tournament.

Finally, on Tuesday night, I had my first chance to cover one of Asia-Pacific’s games, and I found myself sitting in the same bleachers that the players’ parents were sitting in.

One father told me that he saw Sunday three times during their travels here for the tournament, as they crossed multiple time zones. The mothers would position themselves to get pictures of their girls when they would come to bat. There were several shirts being worn that bore the roster of the girls on the team, and there was a palpable sense of pride in their kids for making it this far — as there should have been.

And they made me laugh throughout the entire game — one that Asia-Pacific lost 7-0 to the USA East team.

As the announcer would call out the score at the end of every half-inning, he would say, “East two, Asia-Pacific nothing.”

All together, the fans would shout out “zero!”

“‘Zero’ sounds better than ‘nothing,’” one mother explained with a laugh.

They were just out there having a fun time. And they managed to make it fun for all of us around them.