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I remember waking up early that spring morning for fear of oversleeping. I barely slept a wink; I was way too exited to sleep. All I could think about was how this could be the start of something very good. I had dreamed about this day ever since I started playing fast pitch baseball. The varsity baseball coach wants me, a little sophomore, to start a real varsity game.
It was first light on Tuesday and I was wide-awake, even though I am not an early morning person. I was ready for school a half an hour early. My mom had been yelling at me because the minute I woke up I cranked my stereo up to Eye of the Tiger. I always listened to that particular song before I started a game; the beat really pumps me up. I had on a new pair of jeans and my brand new varsity jersey, number twenty-two. Twenty-two was not my normal number but someone on the varsity squad already had my number, twenty-five.
I have never been that excited while going to school. When I finally arrived, my joy was apparent in the form of an enormous smile on my face. As I walked through those cold metal doors I could feel my head grow with esteem.
Just then I spotted a few of my friends. You could tell they were in awe from seeing the purple and gold letters of my varsity jersey. They were even more stunned when I told them I was starting for the team tonight. We went to a big school: no one under the junior status played on the varsity team. Although the team was having a slow start my friends could still not figure out how I got picked to pitch. I told them I knew I was that good all along, when in reality I was wondering the same thing myself. I threw hard and have pitched a few good junior varsity ball games, but nothing too special.
The school day seemed like the longest I have ever sat through. The baseball team got out of our last class period a little early so we could get dressed and ready for the big game. Even though it was just a regular season game and meant nothing to most people, I knew it was possibly the biggest game of my young career.
Down in the locker room with all the older guys I felt a little out of place. I had partied with these guys before, but never played a game with them. Watching these guys play was like watching painters paint or poets write. I saw baseball as an art form and these guys were the best artists I have witnessed. To play on the same field as them was a dream come true. After suiting up we all got on the bus for a long drive to the field of play. On this night we would be playing at another large school in our district, Francis Howell North. This team was known for winning the district three years in a row. The more I thought about it the less sense it made for me to pitch that day.
When I stepped off the bus my stomach sank to my toes, my throat got dry, and my fingers went numb. The sky was dark and slightly cloudy. It looked like it could rain in a couple of hours: I hoped the rain would wait till after the game. Somehow I walked to the dugout and got my cleats on. I had to sit there for a moment and let my surroundings soak in. The smell of freshly cut grass, the bright white chalk, and the music playing over the loud speakers was all I could take. I was getting very anxious to take the mound. Snapping out of my trance, coach was yelling at me to go get warmed-up. As he tossed me the pearly white Rawlings I trotted to the warm-up mound. My arm had never felt better; pitching on four days rest was perfect.
It seemed as if the Francis Howell North Knights were using their best pitcher against us because our batters could not make good contact in the first inning. You can do it, my mother yelled as I walked to the pitchers mound. After the game my parents said I had an extra bounce in my step. I was defiantly on top of the world. As the inning got underway I was almost perfect, striking two out and lining one out to the shortstop. As one might imagine coach was very impressed to see me do so well. He informed me if I kept up the good work he might find a steady starting spot for me. Those words were just what I needed for motivation. The next two innings went just as the first, short and sweet. It was my time to shine, and shining I was: until disaster struck.
While I was pitching to the third batter of the fourth inning, I heard and felt a pop in my shoulder. Immediately I grabbed my arm in fear of it falling off. I was in shock; this could not be happening to me, not here not now. I was doing so well; I was so confident. Would this be the last time I ever pitched in my life? These thoughts were racing through my head as I stood grasping my arm. When coach asked where it hurt I did not know what to tell him; it hurt all over, my entire arm was numb. The trainer took me over and sat with me on the bench.
I was starting to get feeling back in my arm when my parents showed up. My mom was freaking out. She acted like I was dieing. After the trainer assured them I would be ok, he started looking at the problem that had ended my day on the mound. He told me it was just a sprain, and I would be ok after a couple weeks of taking it easy. That was good news and bad news. The good news was I would be ok eventually, and the bad news was I had to lay low for a couple weeks.
During the long ride home, I started to analyze my situation. I was thinking about the impression I made on the coach. All in all, I came to the conclusion that it was a good outing. The more I thought about it the better it sounded; I would be starting games next year over other pitchers my age. I thought nothing could compare to my first experience at the varsity level, little did I know.
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