I dug my cleat in the dirt around the mound then set my sights on home plate. The top of Kennedy’s line-up was batting. The lead-off hitter had gotten a double off my first pitch in the first inning. I stretched my neck as the batter got into position. Finally, Mark gave me a signal for a curveball. I went through my routine, checking the infield and outfield, making sure everyone was ready. Satisfied, I relaxed my shoulders, placed my index finger on the ball, aimed at my target, and threw.
“Strike one,” the umpire called with his right thumb up in the air and his index finger pointing outward as though he was shooting at someone.
On the next pitch, the batter swung and missed. The crowd was on their feet, shouting. One more strike. Kicking one foot out of the batter’s box, the lanky batter rolled his neck one way then the other, looked down to his third base coach, then stepped back into the batter’s box. Mark gave me the curveball signal. I readied the ball in my glove, wound up, and fired the ball into Mark’s glove.
“Strike three,” the umpire’s voice boomed before the home crowd roared.
The batter stormed away, banging his bat against the ground.
I got in a groove, my confidence and zone tightly reined in, and repeated the same pitch three more times. Now, with two outs, my heart raced with excitement. One more batter, and the first game would be in the record books—my first full game pitching for Kensington High. For a second, I couldn’t believe I was standing on the mound, pitching again.
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