Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Road to State ~ for Both our Boys

Essie looked up at me, her big brown eyes bloodshot and face pale, "Mommy, you know I'm not faking feeling bad, right?"
"Oh Essie, I can tell, sweetie. You look miserable. Let's get some food and water in you."

This took place last Thursday afternoon in our hotel lobby, as I quickly ordered Hudson a sandwich for his first dinner around 5pm, knowing he would need a second in a couple of hours, as his game didn't even start until 9pm.

Branson texted me from his hotel, "Hey mom, I have Hudson's uniform shirt in my bag.”
“Huh? Which shirt? Ok, I don’t think he needs that one. Let me find out.”

Juggling food and baseball bags and a sick little girl out to the parking lot, I checked my phone one more time for directions to the field before sliding onto the highway.

Corbin flew into San Antonio from Fort Worth Friday after work, so I single-handedly got our family down to San Antonio and settled into hotels, all of us excited and a little jittery for the Texas West State Baseball tournament. Branson rode down and stayed in a different hotel with his teammates and coaches, so thankfully, I knew he was taken care of (and probably more responsive to a coach waking him up each morning than if I were doing it).

In a generous demonstration of grandparent devotion, Mama and Papa flew into San Antonio from Albequerque (!!), bringing Foster and River with them. Cappy and Daboo drove in as well, so Thursday night we met up for dinner on our way to the games. Poor Essie sat in my lap the entire time, barely able to lift her head, and quick decline added to my already stretched-baseball/ traveling alone/ keeping-all-these-details-covered nerves.

Three University Little League teams filled McAllister park Thursday evening as the tournament kicked off: the 10U, 12U and 14U all won Sectionals to advance to State. Both Branson and Hudson's games started at the same time, so our family bounced between fields and finally found a knoll right between the two outfields where we could see both games. However, lightening in the distance grew closer and both games were delayed in the third inning. Bran's team led 8-0, but Hud's team trailed 3-0. Everyone ducked for cars and sat out the storm for an hour or longer as the lightening show increased it's dance and proximity. Finally, the officials cancelled all games and sent us home around 11pm. Pulling into the hotel parking lot, the skies let loose and San Antonio found its streets - and baseball fields - flooded.

Friday we tried again. All of our boys woke up crazy early, at breakfast in full uniform and headed to the fields, only to arrive and find the infield under water. Games delayed to 1pm. Then to 3pm. Then to 4pm. As we all arrived to the fields Saturday afternoon, ready to resume these games and get the tournament under way, the rain greeted us again, coming down in torrents to re-flood the already drenched diamonds.

Branson texted, "This is terrible."
Those boys were ready to play ball.

Saturday morning greeted the city with sunshine. And even though the fields remained wet, we had to get these games in. Hud's team trudged around the bases, trying to rally but losing the first game 3-2. The second game, played immediately afterwards in the humid, post-rain sticky afternoon, also ended with us on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
Hud's team's District run dissolved, and tears from a huddle of gifted, united boys splattered into the  outfield.

Branson's 14U team won their "resumed" first game big, but faced the returning State champions and lost the tied ball game in extra innings to a walk-off homerun hit by Sampson's twin. Sunday morning we got to defeat a San Antonio team (10-2) before facing the crazy Oil Belt team again. Both teams played tight and strong and left absolutely nothing on the field, but again, we came up short 4-2.

Both of our 10U and 14U teams emerged as Texas West State Runner-Ups, and in my mind, ALL of our ULL boys are champions. They played with skill and heart. I saw both of my boys' teams come together, battle hard, and encourage each other on the field.

River and Foster - great sports in the Texas' July heat


Essie got to celebrate her birthday in San Antonio

Little sisters
love this

Worth remembering:
- Sectionals - Abilene with Hudson's team was a little dream weekend: Kirk treating us all to Jason's Deli; run-ruling every game but one, which was still something like 10-2; Hud's TWO homeruns in the championship game against Midway, and six homeruns for our team that game, including Zach's walk-off.

- Midway's class. Always a little scared to play them, but they are classy. Sweet group of boys and parents.

- Coulter's catching. Game after game, hour after hour, the kid never gave in to fatigue or sore knees. After hours crouched behind the plate on Sunday's draining heat, his mom nailed it when she said, "They'd have to drag him off that field." He played with heart and gave it everything he had.

- Brayden pitching the entire San Antonio game, finishing 10-2 - against a strong team. Impressive.

- Hudson's team families - fantastic group of parents and kids: little sister / little brother goodie bags for both Abilene and San Antonio tournaments; door decorations for hotel rooms; a zillion team meals; decorating our cars - twice; parents pitching in to buy snacks and drinks for team rooms

- Bran's team families - great to see ULL and Westside come together after pitting against each other all these years. Westside boys brought much-needed skill and new blood. Deep history of boys playing together for years. They read each other on the field with a sixth sense. 

- We parents will miss the camaraderie as much as the boys will. Eating out as a team feels like being at dinner with good friends.

What a summer!