The First GOATs Practice
By Amy King
The Goranboy GOATs are a bit of a misfit team. We have a range of kids from 8-16 and have been around the league for a year and a half. The managers are two female Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs), me and Kate. We called the team the GOATs because G.O.A.T. is Greatest Of All Time. While we have yet to live up to our team nickname, we sure have a great group of kids.
Yesterday was the first practice after a short, very hot summer hiatus. When spring training starts in March for the Majors League, the big talk is of returners, newcomers, injuries and general changes in the team since last season. In the Azerbaijani softball league, the big talk at the beginning of the season is if you can round up (in my case “herd”) enough kids to form a team that can actually practice. Well, yesterday we got 5 kids show up, and 2 of them are returners. 5 kids at practice is pretty good for the first one of the season, and with that we did a throwing tutelage session then batting practice.
It’s great to get returners out to the field, because describing the game of softball is very difficult in a second language. The returners explain what a “base”, “strike”, “ball” or any of the other numerous baseball terms there are with no translation. Also, with batting practice, we usually give the kids 5-10 hits before they run the bases. This makes it confusing in the games, as they don’t understand that they must run on the FIRST hit. Returners help explain this. Yesterday, a girl hit a foul ball, started running the bases and she was rounding second by the time we stopped her to explain what a foul ball was, and why it counted as a strike against her.
Other funny things that happened at practice yesterday were that one girl carried her glove in her left hand and a bat in her right out to the field. I asked what she was doing with the bat and she looked at me completely stone-faced and asked “I don’t need this out here?” I let her know that the bat was for offense and that she was playing defense. Then turned to my co-coach Kate and cracked a big smile. I love when stuff like that happens. Then when we were switching positions, one of the kids was being moved from second to shortstop. On my team, I take the 10th player (slow-pitch softball plays with 10) and stick them right on top of second base so that there’s less movement necessary on the field. Well on the move, the kid took the “base” (an unused lefty glove) from second to shortstop with him. It was the first time I had seen a stolen base by the defensive second baseman.
Overall it was a good practice. We got three new players and a new season underway. Welcome to Azerbaijani Softball Fall 2011.