Thursday, October 18, 2012

Round 1 - ETPBC Div 5

Round 1 came and went as quickly as the lead we worked hard to maintain late in the game.

Our Div 5 team travelled down to West Torrens last Saturday for the Round 1 "Torrens Clash", rivalry has always been strong with the two clubs and this game was one neither side wanted to drop.

East Torrens Div 5 this year is a completely new outfit, new coach at the helm Robbo and his band of merry men, brought a wealth of experience and power into our side which last year failed to win more than 3 games and struggled both on the mound and with the bats.

One of my best mates Jarrad is one of the players from last years squad, both he and I agree we both need some work and we've struggled in the past couple of seasons (where coaching individuals for improvement hasn't been the focus). But both Jarrad and I agree the new coach and squad coming down has been a breath of fresh air.

This has been noticable throughout training and before warm-up's on Saturday, Matt our new catcher (and Robbo's right hand man) is everything about winning, but, he wants the team to win, not individual glory. He speaks to us all with respect and helps every batter out as much as possible to better their game.

So, Saturdays game a number of us had pre-game nerves, myself included. I spent all morning working through my bevy of songs to help calm down and not get worked up too early, songs including Layla (Eric Clapton), Bella's Lullaby (Twilight), The Back of My Head (Short Stack), Paparazzi (Lady Gaga) etc.

Yes the list above includes a song from Twilight and Lady Gaga, I am definately not a Lady Gaga fan but just like this one song... Twilight, well, have to admit I do enjoy watching the saga but that song and its melody I really love listening too.

The above worked for a while but the nerves kept coming, normally I'm not nervous before a game, Game 1, under a new coach, new team, this was a different scenario. So a swift change to "Fire Up" music was in order, special thank you to Linkin Park, Blink 182 & Good Charlotte for helping me out there.

I have everything to prove to the new guys, I cemented my spot at 3rd base last year (but thats easy when your the coach haha..). I had a great year last year and wanted to return so I had to prove myself worthy of staying in the infield. I also won the batting trophy last year so I wanted to show why and that I wanted to be a threat with the bat again this year.

My first at bat came before the first chance at fielding, felt ok out there but my timing was out... I found I was swinging late. Finally on the fifth pitch I claimed the ball with my bat, unfortunately I deflected it straight into my left foot, just below the shin... The ball kicked out to short stop and I hobbled to 1st base..

With that painful experience came the embarrassment side, my first fielding error. With a Double Play looming the ball was hit to me at 3rd and a late unexpected bounce left the ball hitting the top of my mitt and fumbling onto the ground, once I finally retrieved the ball it was too late to get any runners out.

Now with my head down and cursing myself came the new players in our team, never have I received so much encouragement after a bad play - Wazza at first, Hung at SS, Matt at catcher, all yelling out.

This lifted me quite well, spent some of the game still a bit jumpy but gathered my nerves to start fielding well and getting the runner out at first without overthrowing or misfielding the ball.

Both teams went tit for tat over the next 5 Innings, I enjoyed two hits from my next two at bats and also helped bring some runners home (We won't talk about me getting thrown out at home whilst attempting to slide - or as my son says, fall over the plate...)

In the 5th inning we were tied at 5 all with 1 out and my nerves came back to haunt me, I gathered the ball, an easy play to attempt to throw the runner out at first, routine play... Not sure why but my throw didn't have as much in it as required and it bounced to first base only just getting the runner out. Again my head down not happy - but like an alarm went off in the other fielders heads, the encouragement began to flow like crazy.

Last batter of the inning came to the plate and after watching a few balls he hit a grounder to me at 3rd, unfortunately this was one I couldn't wait for so I plunged forward. Gathering the ball whilst on my knees I looked up, rocketed a ball to first and just claimed the runner in time. This one play renewed my huge passion for baseball as it was one of those plays you hear in the big leagues the announcer screaming out in joy as the player dives for the ball then throws to first from his knees... Something i've always wanted to do.

Fired up we went into the last inning with confidence we could win this and just like that our boys brought home two runs and we went into the bottom of the inning 7-5 up.

Sadly West Torrens had their big hitters up next and they managed to tie up the game 7-7, luckily for us their last batter skyed the ball to me at 3rd and I was able to take the final out with a routine catch.

I thoroughally enjoyed the game, Robbo pitched all the way through and really controlled the plate well - never looked like tiring either. Matt controlled the plate like a real captain of the team, Hung the new boy was kept busy at short stop (I like to yell out Hit it Well Hung when he's batting hahaha) and Left & Centre fielders Jonesy & Ralph were kept busy too.

All our players hit very well and I think majority of us were able to grab a couple of hits on the day, sadly, like Matt spoke of at the end, 7 runs is great but leaving 10 runners stranded on base is something we need to work on. Looking back at the game our team played very well considering we only trained 3 or 4 times prior to Round 1.. This is also the first time our team has played together as one.

I was sore the next few days but Saturdays Round 1 game really ignited the fire inside of me to push to be the best for this team. I want to train hard and learn from the guys like Matt and Robbo as I feel they can really teach Jarrad and myself alot about our batting and the game.

One thing was also apparent to Jarrad and I, the need to also drop some kg's, so we now have a goal - 10kg's to be dropped, hopefully before Xmas. 10kg's off will help us compete more, run harder and be fitter for the team and family life.

This week we play our first home game of the season against Woodville @ 3pm. If this Woodville team is anything like we played two years ago then we will have our work cut out for us. But this team has the confidence that we can do it so I think this will be a very good game to watch - if your past Pattersons Reserve (Payneham) on Saturday then check it out, canteen will be open with some awesome hot food and drinks available!

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