Rough, plate 10

Mouse winding up on the pitcher's mound, ready to hurl to a young frog batter while a cricket waits to fetch.

I picked up a ball and gave it a gentle, underhand toss right into the zone. She held the bat out, letting the ball hit it and bounce back to me. “That isn’t the way you teach pitching, is it, coach?”

She took her stance again, looked me right in the eye. I didn’t want to embarrass either of us with another soft pitch, so I wound up and let one fly towards an inside corner. It wasn’t my fastest pitch, but it had some pepper on it. She dropped her left shoulder a bit, started to crouch, then swung. There was a crack, and something flew by my left ear.

“Coach, we only have two balls. You have to catch them, or we’ll spend all our time in the woods looking for them.” I picked up the second ball and she took her stance. Her eyes didn’t leave mine. I took a few steps back so I’d have more time to react. This was a tough player. My eyes locked on hers. I wound up, then curved one over the outside rear corner. Or, at least, that’s where it was heading when she smacked it. It came back right in the same place as the last one, but I managed to get a glove up. It cracked into the glove. She was aiming her hit so I could catch it. I’ll be darn!