So we are in Florida. Did I mention we were leaving town? Well, we did! But before we headed south we had to wrap up our t-ball season, which consumed basically ALL of our free time last week.
So in t-ball they have a double elimination tournament. The Cardinals won first place in the regular season and went into the 16 team tournament as one of the favorite teams. We played awesome and had so much fun, but in the end the boys lost to the two teams that won 1st and 2nd place and we ended up with 4th overall. Our entire experience with this team and these kids was just so awesome, I am sort of in withdraw over the fact that it is over. But before we wrap up t-ball for the season I want to get a story down for the record books, so here you go.
The story of Henry's last at bat.
We have been working with Henry a lot lately about running as fast as he can all the way to 1st base. He had been slowing down when a player is standing in his way (not that I can blame him... I mean, it's polite NOT to crash into someone) and we had been telling him he had to "RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN! Don't slow down!!" Or something along those lines.
So, we are in our final game. And we are in the bottom of the 3rd inning and the Cardinals are down by 9. This is important because they only get a 4th inning we we are within 5 runs. The Cardinals are up at bat and they MUST get four runs to stay alive in the tournament. As the inning unfolds we end up with the bases loaded and two outs when Henry walks up to the plate.
Henry is up.
You get five swings to hit the ball in tball. This is not a problem Henry has had, although kids do strike out in this league for sure. So he gets ready and he swings. And it's foul.
And he swings a 2nd time. And hits the Tee.
Swings a 3rd time. Foul.
Swings a 4th time. Hits the tee.
And I am in the stands, and I cannot breath.
It's okay. It is. I mean, if he strikes out to end the season, that's just how this season ends. They are learning. They are five and six years old. It's FINE!
But oh lord, I wanted him to hit that ball. For him and for his team. They had all worked so hard all season. No matter what happened after, I wanted him to hit that ball.
His coach, who has been with him for three seasons now, who has taught him so much and grown to adore our boy, looked at him and said "Henry. I need you to hit this ball."
Henry just nodded his head and smacked the crap out of it, driving it down the 3rd base line just like he needed.
They threw the ball to first while Henry was running.
Henry did NOT slow down. He made it. He was safe!
I. Went. Insane.
Henry's hit sent one run in, so three to go to earn our 4th inning.
The next three batters came up, each with the pressure mounting. Each kid squared their shoulders and did exactly what the coaches asked. Again and again, they hit the ball and nobody got out.
When Henry was on 3rd the other coach called time to call in a catcher to try to get him out at home since his run was the one that would guarantee the extra inning. During the time out Nick walked over to Third and talked to Henry.
"Buddy, just run as fast as you can."
He ran. He beat the ball. He got the score and pushed for us to get the 4th inning we needed for our chance to win.
As he crossed the plate everyone was going CRAZY. Coach scooped him and and literally carried him back to the dug out in celebration. That grin on his face. You guys, I will never in a million years forget his face.
IT. WAS. AMAZING.
Like, my favorite sports moment of all time. Bar none. It was just exactly, EXACTLY how you want to go out. Carried off the field as your entire team pulled together to do EXACTLY what was needed to keep your team in the game.
As our players prepared to run out on the field for the 4th inning, an inning that has existed in every game all season since this is a 4 inning league, the other team protested. We had played an hour, and after an hour they can end the game. They got umpires and league officials involved and in the end it was decided that the game could be over since technically the hour was up. It's in the park rules.
They won. Our kids didn't get to take the field.
We have been thinking about how it all ended a lot, and we hate it for the boys, but at the same time, man, what a way to go out. Nobody missed the last play. Nobody got the last out. The coaches asked the boys to play their hearts out, and they did. It's pretty rare you end the season cheering and joyous only to find out you lost, but I think they will be able to remember the cheering and the joy most of all, and that's what matters.
The 2015 Cardinals. Regular season champs. 4th place in the tournament
What a year