I'm sweating, running as fast as I can plate to plate. I have to make it home, or else my team will not be able to make it to the finals. I need to keep running. I've been doing this since early in the morning. The team that has been guaranteed a spot in the finals already are cheaters. As an only black team, we are often spoken against. But we're going to make our mark. We've already come really far. All we need is one more point and we've got this team finished. I need to keep running. I get an adrenaline rush and run even harder. I feel my legs pumping, and my heart is going faster than my legs. And that's saying a lot, I probably am going more than a few miles an hour.
My legs are very long. It helps me be very fast when I run. And I make the last plate. I did it! We won the game! My team cheers loudly. We needed this win, after everything we've been put through. We are so excited. We know that now we have to prepare ourselves and get ready for next weekend. The New York Frees are the longest, best-running, and longest-running baseball team in the entire city, for T-ball at least. When you get into their team, you are almost guaranteed a win. It was the team we had dreamed of being on since it opened up for all races. Our coach has never coached T-ball before. My dad played when he was a boy. They had a neighborhood team. He teaches us whatever he can remember about it.
When we started, we were the worst players out there. Our best player could catch and hit the ball. Couldn't catch it to save his life. But we figured out everyone's strengths and weaknesses. Before our first game, we figured had our first win. Their team was really terrible. But then we started to pull together, and practice. We persevered, through all the things that happened. I was so excited and thrilled that we had this major team. If it weren't for the Frees, they would be the best team in the city. Now, like I said, the Frees cheat. But for some reason, the referee is the same, the same coach, and the referee never calls them out. Even our coach knows that, and he hasn't played T-ball since we started with him as our coach.
On Monday, we did running drills. Then, we practiced catching. We practiced batting after that. I hit the ball super hard and missed it once. I was able to hit a home run last game, so I just needed to practice catching. Two games ago, I dropped the ball. I practiced throwing a little. But on Tuesday, I really did throwing and catching. I practiced running a tiny bit. I had also done hitting a lot. On Wednesday, I did a lot of stretching. I caught the ball every time it was thrown, ran my average speed, and hit the ball just as much. I was on my game on Wednesday. But on Thursday, there was no practice. The coach works late on Thursday. That's why we don't practice. Because my dad works with the coach, he can't hold it either. On Friday we do team building.
Before the coach figured out our strengths and weaknesses, he also figured out we didn't know each other. We didn't trust each other or know each other from school really. So the coach decided Friday was to be used for team-building activities. Like playing kickball. A lot of them are like that. We learned how to blindly trust each other. It was like we were a weird family. In a way, it was comforting. We always could rely on each other we learned. We did trust walks, where we got blindfolded and would walk all around the park by following the directions our partner gave us. It never mattered what people said to us. We know we have colored skin. But them discriminating against us only made us stronger.
Then, it was Saturday. The big day. In the first quarter, we were ahead by one point. In the second corner, the Frees took the lead by four points. During the time out, we amped each other up. We got ahead of them by six points in the third quarter. Our coach pulled us aside. "You guys are doing awesome. This is going to be a slick game. Play your hearts out. It doesn't matter whether we win or lose. We have come so far. We have made our mark. Let's get out there and play some ball!" We all started cheering. We got out onto the field and played. We were tied up.
I was batting last once again. My mind flashes back to the first baseball game I ever saw. And then, my mind is super focused. One swing and boom, it's out of the park. I run, harder, faster than ever before. I felt like Jackie Robinson, running plate to plate, sweat coming out of my forehead. And then, I'm on third the win is within our reach. Then, I reach it. Game over. I did it. We won. We went out for pizza and celebrated. My dad was so proud of me. We were thrilled by our win. The Frees had been beat, at long last. Plate to plate, I remember running, everything in a blur. The Frees cheated multiple times in the game. But we persisted and won the entire thing. Our sponsor was thrilled.
I was so proud that I had done it. That my team had won. Dreams do come true after all. Never give up, no matter what people tell you. Life can be tough, but you can be tougher. The harder you try, the better off you will be. No one had beat the Frees. No one wanted to be a Pepper, which was the name of my team. But through hard work, we won in the end, in team work and in the game.