Softball practice, curveballs, and other life lessons

My niece Kerrin is going to college on a softball scholarship. I know, right? SO exciting.

School doesn’t start for another month, but she has already been practicing with her college coach – of course, this is not new to her. The kid has been practicing softball A LOT for 10 years . And it has paid off! Kerrin is an excellent pitcher, with five pitches that will each have you swinging at air.

Imagine: you are at the plate, 43 feet away from the pitching rubber, and here comes the rise ball at 60+ mph. It is a scientific fact that a softball hitter has less reaction time than a baseball hitter. Step it off yourself – 43 feet is not very far. How about the fastball at 59mph? Then, just when you have your bat moving quickly, the change-up comes in at 45mph…and you look like a fool.

Maybe the hardest pitch to judge is the curveball/screwball. It is the same speed as the fastball, and could be mistaken for a high fastball initially…then suddenly turns away from the batter (or into the batter if it is a screwball). So you think you are preparing for one thing then BAM, the direction changes. OOOO it makes the batter MAD to swing through the center of the plate, only to watch the ball move away.

That is a great thing to see when you are cheering for the pitcher…not great for the hitter’s fans…not great in life.

You know what I mean, don’t you.

We all have curveballs thrown our way. That’s just life. An illness, job loss, unforeseen expenses that put our finances in disarray. Each of us gets our share of naturally occurring curveballs.

But what about the ones that aren’t naturally occurring? What about the ones people intentionally throw? Those are harder, aren’t they?

Someone lies to you, speaks nasty words about you, abuses your trust…HUGE curveball. You swing and miss, then life goes on. Right?

WRONG.

It’s almost as if each curveball gets stuck in a pitching machine until we hit it. You think it’s gone…then, in the middle of your day, there is the curveball again. And the emotions it brings are still strong.

So what do we do?

Here is advice from a softball coach on hitting a curveball: Learn to hit the fastball or you will never hit the curve; Learn to hit the opposite way – it may not be a power hit but it can still be a hit; study the pitcher – there are generally clues to when a curve is coming; practice then practice then practice.

Funny how softball imitates life.

Learn to deal with everyday life, be balanced. Then when someone throws a curve, it won’t knock you down completely.

Learn to adjust your swing, so you can make something good happen, even if it is not a proverbial homerun.

Study the pitcher so you can see the signs.

Oh, I am so not good at this one.

Actually I AM good at catching the signs. Discernment is a strongpoint and gift of mine. I just don’t always listen to my gut when it concerns me.

I see the signs. But I refuse to believe. I refuse because this is not softball…it’s life and we aren’t supposed to deliberately throw curves. My refusal does not always change the situation.

I have only had a couple folks who have thrown one curve after another while I stood in the box waiting for the next one. You’ve had at least one as well, haven’t you? Of course you have.

But here is the great thing…practice helps solve this problem. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t mean subject yourself to abuse or drama. I mean practice balance everywhere else. Practice good relationships with others. Practice quietness of your soul and spirit.

I have found that diligent practice of these positive vibes give me the ability to see the curve coming and HIT IT! And when you hit it often, one of two things happens: the pitcher doesn’t throw the curve anymore, or the pitcher is removed from the game.

Kerrin has a great curve that will one day land her in a Division I pitching circle. I am cheering mightily for that!

But none of us needs deliberately thrown curveballs.

Life is hard enough. How about we support each other in getting rid of the nasty pitchers…Whattaya say?