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Take Me Out …

June 18, 2021

Another Way for week of June 11, 2021

Take Me Out

I’ve never been much of a baseball or softball fan. Games are long. Slow. Often hot, or on the other end of seasons, freezing. Or let’s talk about rain delays. Fun.

My great step-niece with one of Odicci’s many young fans, years BEFORE these playoffs ever happened. See footnote at bottom. Photo by grandmother Lisa.

As a kid I didn’t mind playing softball in the backyard or at school. But I didn’t like being on a team once I reached high school, and lasted only one season. I played that year because my best friend loved the game and wanted me to play too. I, on the other hand, lived for basketball at that point.

So when I was on the high school team with my friend, I was glad for any outfield position where I wouldn’t have to deal with the ball much. It made me nervous to be in the spotlight like pitcher or first base. I was so scared of getting hit by the ball at short ranges.

I wrote earlier about how my interest in the game began to grow during the 2019 Major League Baseball playoff season when our “local” Washington Nationals went on to win the World Series in 2019. My daughters who live near Washington, D.C. have been faithful fans, and we began watching the Nationals during the playoffs. I learned a lot about the game, funky baseball traditions, and “Baby Shark.”

This year one of our local universities, James Madison, in a covid-shortened season, nevertheless sent its women’s softball team to the Women’s World Series National (WWSN) playoffs in Oklahoma. I was surprised to learn that both of Oklahoma’s state schools, Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State were long running successful teams on that “world series” stage and earned the right to host those playoffs in their own city.

The games were hot, loud, and competitively, the best softball I’ve seen played anywhere (and many coaches/commentators agree about that). It was a thrill to watch the women on all the teams supporting each other so enthusiastically. And it really isn’t boring, when you study and watch the pitchers, coaches, catchers and in our case, a player holding down third base like it was a fortress. Our pitcher, Odicci Alexander, from a very small town in southern Virginia had wowed fans throughout the season. Then they started beating ranked teams as they eventually earned the opportunity to bat in the WWSN playoffs. Eight schools made it to that level and JMU players were able to defeat their first two opponents and go on to additional games.

Alexander was not only a pro at pitching fastballs and racking up strikeouts and shutouts, but polite. She didn’t appear to let the fame she was earning go to her head. It doesn’t hurt that Alexander not only has a beautiful face, but she gave the games her all, especially after a bunt where she was able to stretch in a long reach as she fell and tapped a player out on home base. A huge tribute for her playing and demeanor was given as she was finally removed by her coach from the last playoff game when she was visibly tiring and letting too many hits get by. The whole stadium appeared to stand and applaud, including opponents. A nice touch for those of us in the Shenandoah Valley was nearby Page County’s Kate Gordon, an excellent starting hitter who holds the program’s “career home runs” record. Another fan favorite was the third base player, junior Lynsey Meeks, a 4’11 dynamo who was a live wire covering the home stretch, while also serving as a spark plus for other players. And all of us. She caught my attention the first time I saw face: focused like a determined fighter as she went to bat. Finally, the look of concern and empathy on her face as she greeted senior pitcher Alexander leaving the field for the pitchers last time still makes me tear up.

JMU players Lauren Bernett, left, and Lynsey Meeks, right, wait for Odicci Alexander, center to get control of emotions after she is taken out of the game after days of pitching in the Women’s College World Series. Photo by Sue Ogrocki, AP.

Little girls were surrounding these players for autographs when they got back to our town (below). I think I’m in love with a new sport and this brand of noteworthy sportsmanship.

Teammates are greeted when they returned to Harrisonburg after a triumphant effort, including beating the eventual WCWS champion, the Oklahoma University Sooners. Odicci, center, has been invited to play for USSSA Pride professionally. Photo courtesy JMU Sports Information.

Your favorite sport? Stories? Send comments to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

Footnote for first photo: “Payton originally picked CiCi as her “person” as they had the same number on their jerseys. Payton was playing t-ball and CiCi playing college level both had the number 3 and from that moment, we cheered her on as our “person” as well. From getting her autograph and waiting till after her interviews for hugs from her, to seeing her in Chick-fil-A with the whole team. She has always had a smile and enjoyed seeing her biggest, little fan waiting for her.” –Footnote by her mother, Ashley.

4 Comments
  1. I admire athletes and wish I had more athletic prowess. Alas, I shined best in school behind the desk, not the baseball bat. My favorite sport in elementary school: Red Rover.

    Among my memories of sports at EMC is Margaret Martin (aka Speedy!) teaching us how to put power behind our volleyball serve. She did it in a dress and prayer cap too!

    Now that Tim Tebow has signed with the Jaguars, I have hope for our NFL home town team. At least he’ll sell tickets. 🙂

    • You have shined great in the writing world, Marian!

      I never had Speedy for a teacher but we enjoyed her volunteer work at the office, Mennonite Media for many years. She was very faithful. I did get to go to her home to interview her husband Mr. Gehman and all of his inventions for an article for Christian Living for one of my writing classes. We knew her as Margaret Gehman. Speedy and her dress and covering!

      Thanks for your comments as always!

  2. Your personal connection to JMY and Alexander made this a marvelous column, Melodie. Neva and I were late to the party, but we sure enjoyed watched the playoffs. You captured the spirit of the team perfectly.

    • Bruce, not surprised this warranted a comment from you one of the biggest baseball fans I know (know somewhat). You may have noticed a comment on FB from the absolute biggest baseball fan I know, another guy named Bruce. You two should meet up sometime!! He used to go to our church but now lives near Berkley Springs (a good place for you to go photograph. Neat town.)

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