Hope Howell recaps the past few weeks in this edition of Out of Left Field.
May 21, 2010
I know, I know...it's already been a week and 5 games, where's the blog already?! Forgive me. Exam week takes its toll. Once I finished this semester, I never wanted to see my laptop ever again.
We swept Purdue (first one of the seniors' career!) And thank goodness we run-ruled them the last game; not only did that give us a better record and confidence going into our Senior Weekend, but several of us had exams the next morning and were in desperate need of studying. Because I had 5 days between exams, I had time to plan my study regimen perfectly. But how can anyone focus when you're in a Big Ten race?
DAY SUPPOSED TO INSTEAD, SPENT MAJORITY OF TIME... SUNDAY highlight notes Went to mall and bought perfume. MONDAY Make flash cards Practiced, lifted. Oh, and watched One Tree Hill. TUESDAY Study flash cards obsessed about beating Purdue WEDNESDAY Study remainder of flash cards beating Purdue!
*~* whatever. The ends justify the means. I just promised myself that after the double-header I would go to the gas station, buy one of those amazing iced mocha drinks Hollie recently turned me onto and use the caffeine to study all night. Don't get me wrong, Hollie is my beloved partner in crime, but it's dangerous having a friend who likes all the things you do. When she gets hooked on something, I get hooked on something, and vice versa. -Which is why I'm now paying $3 4x a week for 20 oz. of straight sugar and she can't stop watching Real Housewives of New York.
After we swept Purdue, in accordance with my plan, I dragged my roommate Audrey (who also had a final exam at 8 a.m. to the gas station to buy our essential "study session" drinks and snacks. I made a Bee-line for the mocha machine when nothing came out!!! Right then I was conflicted between the devil and angel on either side of my shoulders.... "This ruins the plan!" Vs. "It's not worth it, Hope..." Good luck trying to reason with a girl who has a law exam worth 45% of her grade in 9 hours and a heaping pile of flashcards to memorize.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME DUDE!?" I screamed at the gas station attendant. "I'VE BEEN DREAMING ABOUT THIS MOCHA FOR A WHOLE WEEK!" I immediately realized how pathetic that sounded and didn't expect the guy to take a 22 yr old girl, throwing a tantrum with traces of eye black down her cheeks seriously. The guy said he'd look in the back for more, but only came out holding an "OUT OF ORDER" sticker that he slapped on the blending machine. My only hope for revenge? Immortalize this epic offense in my blog. VICTORY IS MINE!! Whatever, I probably just gave the gas station the publicity it needs. If you ever need a Mocha spokesperson, you know where to find me.
So, after compromising with a coke icee instead, I walked (heavy hearted, mind you) with my Audrey back to our apartment, vowing to only talk about the game on the walk back home. Once we walked through the door, the only sounds you could hear were her pounding laptop keys and me flipping flashcards. That is, until 7:30 a.m. when we parted ways to assume our fate.
My law final was lethal. LETHAL I TELL YOU! Each question was the equivalent of taking a bullet. I barely knew anything- reminded me a lot of the SATs, without the luxury of omitting questions. But as soon as I walked out the double doors, HELLO SENIOR WEEKEND! Did I mention this weekend was SENIOR WEEKEND?
Minnesota got an early lead in the 3rd, but we weren't fazed. Slowly, but surely we strung hits together, chipping away at the Gopher's lead until we could finally grab it for ourselves. No one panicked- it was simply a mutual understanding that we'd get those runs back. I believe everything thing we do in one way or another prepares us for post-season. For example, no team can overcome a 3-run lead with only three or four hitters- it takes everyone. And that's why we succeed. Our offense knows exactly what it takes to score runs, and do not care how or what they have to do to get on. For example, I led off the inning reaching on an error, and then Meredith and Hollie did the same. Once we touched home, did anyone actually remember, or even care how we got on? Course not. The scoreboard knows no jersey number, and we were going to lean into every pitch and steal every extra base we could until we got the lead back.
And props to our defense, as it has a tendency to get even tighter after opposing teams score. Every run scored against us is personal, but especially if it takes our offense a while to get going, we have to work together to be extra stingy and aggressive on defense.
Before heading to the field, I stopped by my parent's hotel for a free hot breakfast and visited the lobby's computer to check my email. To my surprise, my final exam grade and overall grade was already in! Of course, I blew the final, but ended up getting an A in the class! I had a friend double check for me before I actually believed it. I figured "Ok, this has to be Karma from the Mocha machine." Thinking my good luck account would be bankrupt after my law exam's incredibly large withdrawal, I never in a million years would have believed Senior Day would have turned out like it did.
First, we seniors walked in to see our lockers decorated with Congratulations, streamers and shiny banners with our names and numbers on them. On our benches were digital picture frames with countless rotating group and action shots.
*Thank you to all the picture taking parents for all these great memories!
That morning, all my family, friends and teammates asked if I was ready for my last game on Eichelberger Field EVER! I just shrugged my shoulders; we stood such a great chance of hosting, it didn't seem as final to me. Forgive the morbid analogy, but it's like if you met a crazy psychic who knew the day (or how) you were going to die, would you honestly want to know? I don't think I would. And I think it'd be an insult to the team if I consciously played my supposed last game any different than the first or next. But still, that didn't mean we couldn't end the "regular" season with our best performance ever. So I guess the moral of the story is, not only is ignorance bliss- it keeps you aggressive at the plate.
Right from the start I knew we were going to win. No, it wasn't just a feeling- our teammates told us, plain out- they were going to annihilate this team for us- and they were going to do it quickly so we could have more time to celebrate with our families.
The night before, I went 1-4, but felt as though I was seeing it well and hitting the ball hard. I told Hollie I was going to take Vaji's approach- if she doesn't find a hole in the defense to expose, she just hits it right at them hard enough so that they either botch it or it shoots past them before they even notice. So when I stepped into the box in the bottom of the first, I just thought "Doesn't have to be pretty, just hit it hard." Eventually I worked my way to a 3-1 count. Now, we're trained to only swing if it's our favorite pitch or right down the middle, and lead off batters are in no position to turn down an opportunity to get on base, especially when Mer's batting behind me. I thought, "Don't get greedy, just take the walk." Then the pitcher's release- that ball looked like Christmas morning. Well, maybe I can make this one exception.....HOME RUN!
*Thank you Mrs. Wright for chasing that ball down before the field crew could get it and return it to the umpires. ☺ My Dad will probably sleep with that ball under his pillow for the rest of the season, thinking maybe the home-run fairy will visit me again.
My second at bat I came up with Vaji on third and Z on second base with one out. WHAT AN AMAZING SITUATION. No matter what I do, I win. Sac fly or ground out, Vaji scores. Base hit, they both score. I knew all I had to do was not strike out, and Z would be at the plate before I even touched first. I hit the ball to right field, and while they were tempted to get Z at the plate, got to second.
My third time around it was almost comical. Everyone was telling me to stay hot, but I knew better. As soon as you think you can rope anything thrown at you-- is when you wiff. This day was already so incredible- we had a huge lead against Minnesota and I got an A in a class that people typically reserve to repeat again, so I knew my luck was running on E. I thought "C'mon...would God really let me THREE times?" So with Z at second, I was focused on moving the runner with something to the right side. The 2nd baseman hesitated, and there I was, 3 for 3.
Still, the day wasn't perfect until the entire team got in. Truthfully, I don't feel like our season could have ended any better. I mean, Jackie gets up, and hits up the middle and then again down the line, Erin gets a pinch hit, Nikki gets a pinch hit, you can't make this stuff up! -And don't think Bailey's wasn't a great pinch hit either. She practically walked twice, but was wrung up on mercy calls. No fair, and it's really sad that she's immune to those ridiculous mercy calls.
Then- in relief- Ash Bob. Too freakin perfect. K,K,K, K,... (my lap top won't do backwards Ks....) I hope everyone who's read this blog about Ashley's pitching saw for yourself this weekend. She's incredible. And it's only fitting that she struck out the side in the 7th, leaving us both with game balls to treasure forever.
In case you've lost track, let's RECAP: that's an A on my crazy hard Law class, a HR, double and single on SENIOR DAY with my best buddy and fellow senior providing the K to seal our careers at Eichelberger Field- I totally should have gone out and bought a lottery ticket.
To the juniors, sophomores, and freshmen--it was a total team effort and I wouldn't want to go out at Eichy any other way. I am both honored and grateful that your goal that day was to win and make us proud doing it. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Now I dare you to top it. ☺