The Winning Day We Lost By: Katie Palmer

On a beautiful and soon to be awful Saturday afternoon at my house in Evanston. The birds were chirping and the sun was shining brightly reflecting on even the slightest reflective objects. I was just being my usually helpful self, on my way to help out my grandmother in the kitchen all the way in Chicago. “I’ll see you in a few minutes. Ok, Bye! Love you Grandma!” I hung up the phone as she walked into her gray BMW. I had so much to think about with the season ending softball game coming up. I have 2 important roles as captain and catcher.

To relieve some stress I turned up the Music. Starting to listen to my favorite song. “Boom! Clap! The sound of my heart the beat goes on and on and on on. Boom-” I was so caught up in the song that I hadn't seen the light turn red and continued going forward. I noticed my mistake too late as a Big Blue SUV came crashing right into my car. There was a high pitched frequency playing on a loop inside my head and everything went dark.

“Where am I?” I wondered as I woke up in what appeared to be a hospital room filled with balloons, flowers, and cards. I turned to find a terrified but relieved Christie who appeared to have been recently crying. "Are you ok?” asked a concerned Christie. “Of course I am,” I replied “Why? What happened? “You don't remember?” “No. You're scaring me Christie, what happened?” “Melanie, you were in an accident.” “Well since we’re in a hospital, what'd the doctors say? I imagine they ran some tests.” “They did” “And?” “You won’t like it” “Christie, it’s ok. I can handle it” “They say you broke your right leg” “That's not too-” “It was a bad break” “How quickly should it heal?” “Minimum? 4 months”

I frantically looked around the room trying to get up and inform the doctors that there must be some kind of mistake. “Sit down Melanie,” Christie commanded. “I know you're thinking. There was no mistake. You won’t heal in time for the game.” "How's my family? Grandma’s okay, right?” “You're mom and dad on on their way here. You're grandma is just fine.” “Where am I and what time is it?” “Well we’re at the Evanston hospital and it’s Monday morning.” “What?! I have to hurry up. When can I leave for school?” “Melanie, you should rest. You've already been through a lot, I don't think school is a good idea right now.” “You don't understand, even if I can't play the game, I have a chance at getting in for an academic scholarship.” “Melanie please rest.” “Okay” I closed my eyes slowly focusing on our team’s inevitable win.

“Hey kiddo!” Whispered dad. “You feeling any better?” “Much better!” “I imagined you being a lot more upset about this.” “Well if I can't play this game, I still have next year to play and get scouted.” “No, not about that. I meant about the team not playing” “Wait, what?” “Christie didn't tell you? Honey, the team doesn't have enough people to play the game, they're going to have to forfeit.” “How is that possible we have 10 other players.” “Well Natalie is moving and Claire has to take care of her sick grandmother.” “We can’t forfeit, we just can’t.” “I understand this is upsetting, but you just have to think. Like you said, you can still play next year.”

Tuesday night I left the hospital wearing a brace and accepted the fact my parents wouldn't even let me walk as they were scared of further injury. So I was pushed to the car in a wheelchair, but not without a plan. I was going to do anything I could to make sure we didn't forfeit this meant running drills and making sure I didn't sit out of gym so it didn't seem like I'd been injured.

By Friday night I was able to suck it up and full out practice. I winced slightly, once starting suicides, but otherwise I was able to handle it, I had to for the team. I ran into Christie on my run home.

“Melanie?” “Oh, Hi Christie!” “Melanie, you shouldn't be walking without crutches, let alone running.” “I think the doctors may have actually messed up. I feel completely better.” “No, you don't. You're just putting on a brave face for the sake of your team.” “Whatever. How were your grades?” “Melanie, I'm serious. I'm calling your mom to pick you up. If I see you on Saturday on the field, I will never forgive myself for letting it happen.” sobbed Christie.

That night I went home nervous about the upcoming afternoon, reviewing plays in my head and possible situations. I went to the garage swinging away until midnight. I didn't sleep that night, doing sit-ups and push-ups in my room.

The next morning after a sleepless night I walked down to breakfast. Mom and Dad had prepared breakfast as if to say Sorry that you can't play today, here’s breakfast. “So, I was thinking we could go to the city today.” “I've already got plans.” “Plans doing what?” “Hanging out with Christie.” “Just make sure you guys get some studying in. Be careful!”

I made sure that I brought my crutches, and I grabbed my equipment and headed to the garage. I was completely focused on the road, no music and no worrying. The last thing I needed was another trip to the hospital.

Upon arrival I rushed to get changed and sprinted to the field. I made it to the field without wincing once. If I didn't feel like I could do it before, I certainly felt like I could. I started my drills with sprints, throwing, diving, and practice swinging.

Once the game had started I had more confidence. The entire first inning not a single ball got past me. I was up 4th, as I was the power hitter of the team. Avery hit a grounder towards left field and made it to first. Kate hit it all the way past center field. Natalie was up, the pitcher appeared annoyed and appeared ready to throw some tricks. The pitcher ended up a little too flustered and walked Natalie. Bases loaded.

The first pitch was a beautiful inside change up, I swung and it went foul to the right. “STRIKE!” announced the umpire. The next was too low for me to get a good swing at “BALL!” The pitcher appearing quite upset, lost concentration and threw one right up the middle, I swung my bat and made contact. “HOME RUN!” My teammates gathered around home plate as I ran the bases, they surrounded me once reaching home. The noise faded and time slowed down. I thought I was losing consciousness, of course it was just the excitement and adrenaline rushing through my body.

By the 6th inning we were winning 7-3. We took the field and as our pitcher Emily was up she was determined to get in a couple screwballs. Emily threw a beautiful screwball. “STRIKE!” I signaled an inside pitch. I wasn't quick enough, and as I got up to get the ball I collapsed. There was so much pain! My coach rushed on the field and my teammates weren't far behind.“Melanie, what's wrong?” “It hurts!” I exclaimed “Where?” coach asked. I pointed to my right leg. “What happened? Is she okay?” It was Christie. She rushed to my side looking at me with a concerning look on her face.

“It was your leg, wasn't it?” Christie guessed. I nodded. “When did you get here?” “I was here the entire game. Once your mom asked about you saying you were hanging out, I knew you'd be here. I told your mom about my suspicions. I told her not to worry and that if anything happened, I would be there.” “I didn't think you would've let me play.” “It's not like I would've been able to stop you, and I'm glad I didn't. I saw the scouts below me watching you the entire game and scribbling notes. It's crazy to think you wouldn't get a scholarship. Also I saw you playing, you were amazing! You gave it everything you could, that's all anyone could ask for, you delivered.” I closed my eyes and again everything was dark.

I woke up back in the hospital room I woke up in on Monday morning. I could see Mom, Dad, and Christie. I was so happy to see them I didn't even look around the room to see more cards and flowers. I looked at Christie “How'd the game end?” I asked her. “Well after you were carried off the field, the team was ready to forfeit, but I volunteered to play for you. As you can probably imagine, I didn't do too great. The game ended 7-13 so the other team won. I jumped several times from the ball and struck out every at bat and almost every pitch got past me. Otherwise I think it went pretty well.” “Do you think you will ever play again?” I asked comically

That's when everyone broke out laughing. “Oh and I talked to the Coach about what had happened, he thought it was incredibly stupid, but brave. I talked to the scouts as well. They said you played amazing, and you got the Scholarship!” I smiled and nearly cried. From this day forward I had played with the same determination and focus as I had the day we won and lost.

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