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Welcoming the spring sports season

While winter sports are wrapping up and the snow has melted away, spring sports are on the horizon. Baseball, softball, girls’ soccer, track and field, as well as boys’ golf and tennis round out another school year. As Washington, Northside, Southside gear up for scrimmages this week, and Pungo Christian starts the regular season, baseball is officially back.

This is one of the best times of the year, mostly because all the sports that take place in the spring are outside.

There are few things better than a spring afternoon on a sunny day. The flowers are blooming, the trees have regained their leaves, and feeling the cool breeze rip through a light jacket can run a chill down the spine. Taking a seat in the stands to watch any sporting event in the spring is a luxury, as long as the spring showers steer clear.

Baseball holds a place near and dear to my heart, as I was on the diamond for 16 years of my life. Still today, I look for any slow pitch softball game I can possibly find just for an excuse to lace up the cleats and dig into the batter’s box with my pre-at-bat routine again.

Baseball and softball alike are the only games where you have to continue to play for the game’s entirety. There is no taking a knee, dribbling out the clock or playing keep away. Baseball forces the winning team to pitch and play defense until the final out is recorded.

No lead is safe. All it takes is one or two hits that string together an onslaught of runs. Just last year, the Pam Pack trailed Ayden-Grifton in the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs, 12-3, before scoring 10 runs in the final three innings to win, 13-12.

Baseball teaches life lessons. You can be called out seven out of 10 times, but if the other three times you’re getting on base, that’s a sign of a good ballplayer. You fail more than you succeed in baseball. My old ball coach used to tell us, “Baseball is 90% mental and 10% skill.” Those words have stuck with me to this day, because they were true. Dusting your self off after a strikeout and stepping back into the box to smoke one right back past the pitcher was pure satisfaction. Rounding first base with a grin on your face, fist bumping the first base coach while hearing the cheers from the crowd and your teammates was euphoric.

Softball is the same way, and in some cases, even harder. Making a softball do some of the things a pitcher can make them do is beyond me and enthralling to witness.

Strategy is such an important part of the game, and it changes on each at-bat and new pitch count. It’s a thinker’s game, and it will forever be America’s pastime.

Good luck to all the spring sports teams. I look forward to grabbing a hot dog and an ice-cold soda from a concession stand near you. Play ball!