Play Ball!

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It is not a secret ­­– we love sports in this house. I am so thankful I can share some of the fun we had with our youngest son’s baseball season this past spring with all of you. 

Our youngest son loves all sports. Like Labrador retrievers, he loves anything that involves a ball and running. Baseball is his favorite game. When he was 10, he played recreational baseball in our local league. We could tell it was time to start working on some skills to improve at this sport. He started working out at a place where a local tournament coach had taken on some 10U boys to play in a couple of fall tournaments. He was having fun and received excellent instruction. More than anything, I loved how this was building his character.

This past fall and spring, the program was under a new director. When I received the spring tournament schedule, I thought I might have a heart attack. We were booked for 12 weekends of 11U baseball tournaments in Northwest Arkansas. Another mother reassured me with rain-outs and bad weather, we MIGHT play eight of those tournaments. We played all 12.

 As we came to the final weekends of tournament play in June, there were a few families scheduled to be out of town. We needed at least three substitute players if we were going to have a big enough roster to make it through pool play one of those weekends. Thankfully, ballplayers hang with other ballplayers. Our son recruited a couple of buddies from his school and another boy he played rec ball with a few years ago. 

Boys come in all different shapes and sizes at this age, so we made a quick trip to the used sports store for some white baseball pants. One of the boys’ moms has a Cricut machine. She used our team logo to create a few shirts for the weekend with numbers required by the umpires in the league. Moms can work magic even under a little pressure.

The boys showed up for field practice all weekend and worked hard alongside the rest of the 11U Arkansas Sliders. They were having fun and playing well. I was excited to see them come together.

We had two Friday night games up in Bentonville. It was a great night of baseball. One of our son’s buddies got up to bat with the bases loaded and hit a grand slam. It was fantastic, a magical baseball moment. They won a game and lost a game and had a great time. It was a fun night with friends at the ballpark.

The next morning after pool play there was not one person or creature stirring in our house. Except me, I was up in the laundry room soaking the stained white pants from all the stolen bases our boy slid into the night before. The boys went back to the field on Sunday and played hard. Precious memories were made.

The following weekend, his team finally came together to win second place in their bracket. They brought home one of these gaudy rings and wore them proudly. 

The season had its share of ups and downs. I think the kids learned they can always count on their parents to help them persevere and encourage them to put in the work. I also think 12 weekends at the baseball fields are always better spent with friends, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

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