One game - one win. But the day held so much more than wins or losses. This was when the girls got a glimpse of the future.
After our first game of the tournament, the girls were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the University of Arizona Softball program by none other than world-class coach Mike Candrea.Talk about a teachable moment, this was a teachable hour!
After a break of more than a month, the girls came out breathing fire. Seven batters came to the plate in the first, 15 batters in the second, and after four batters in the third, the mercy rule was invoked -15-0 - ball game!
Chandler recorded six K's in the first two innings, and Taylor came on in relief in the third. All the outs were via strike-outs. The Gila Valley Suncats played with class, but were over-matched.
Their bats were hotter than the game time temperature of 104. Gianna and Camille had two hits apiece, Katie K and Megan had three RBI's each, and C-Mont was running on all cylinders.
The injury bug reared its ugly head early, but trainer Gabby worked her medical magic, and the sick bay was cleared out with no lingering injuries. Savannah took a foul off the shin and then got hit by a pitch, Katie K ripped open a scab with a hard slide, and Camille crashed into 2nd base, tumbling with the covering player.
The bench responded with its usual high intensity, and picked up the slack without missing a beat. Taylor came in for Savannah, Mia ran, batted and scored for Camille, Ambur batted for Gianna, and Katie S. took over at third to close out the game.
Obviously, the outcome of the game has importance to the Championship Quest. The girls took care of business, and then the mad rush to UA began. A cross-town caravan of crazy California drivers ended at the university softball field. Mecca, you might say, for the fanatical softball faithful!
Softball coach Mike Candrea unselfishly gave his time and wisdom to the girls and their families. What an amazing man and place we were able to experience. The immaculately manicured field, the hallowed hall of champions, the bling-bling trophies, the storied history, all taken in with the hushed awe usually reserved for church.
And then we visited the weight room. Bigger than a Wal-Mart and cleaner than a hospital, an unexpected surprise awaited the suddenly quiet entourage; none other than Kinsey Fowler, the freshman phenom getting in some off-season work.
After a grin and greet, a photo op, and a chorus of oohs and ahhs, Ms. Fowler went back to work, further emphasizing the point that Coach Candrea kept making; PASSION PRODUCES PERFECTION!
Live it, breathe it, bleed it! (my daughter Noelle's phrase) Why would a superstar athlete be working so hard in the off-season? She had a break-out year, she could coast and show up on day one and mail it in. But no - she was doing the dirty work so she could improve.
What a life lesson learned - for both parents and girls. To see first-hand how much work goes into a game. And Coach Mike stressed it's not only athletics that will get it done; at the highest level of the game, the mental part of the game is more important than the physical.
And not just game-mental. Book smarts kick in after the game smarts wear out. Coach Mike repeated over and over, the student-athlete is a student first, and athlete second. One can only control two things in life - effort and attitude.
His qualifications for a recruit? Be a good person, study hard, love your parents, and touch someone everyday.
Sounds like an excellent resume for the game of life.
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