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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)

TITLE: Pop Fly
By Joey Parker


Eric had his feet spread out and his knees bent. His cap was pulled low over his eyes and his hands were down and ready. For all intents and purposes, everything about the way be looked said that Eric was the epitome of an experienced second baseman. In truth, he didnít get to play second very often. He was normally stuck in the outfield but, today, the coach had let him move up.

If you asked him, Eric couldnít have told you what the score was or how much time was left in the game. All he knew was that he was in the infield. Nothing else mattered. His whole life came down to this moment.

His heart was thudding in his chest as the pitcher threw the first pitch. When the batter swung, Eric felt his heart thud in his chest. He wanted the chance to catch the ball and be the hero of the game but was also afraid heíd miss it and everyone would hate him. To a 9 year-old, catching a fly ball to second was everything.

The pitcher wound up and threw in the second pitch. The clink of the bat striking the ball made Eric jump up and start to run to cover second. Before he took two steps, he was stopped because the ump called it a foul ball. The batter returned to the plate and the pitcher had the ball again. Eric got back into position and waited for the next pitch.

He didnít wait long. The ball was thrown right down the middle of the plate and the batter swung. Once again, the clink of contact echoed across the field and Ericís breath stopped in his throat. The ball was hit towards Eric but looked to be traveling up to the clouds.

Eric straightened up and lifted his glove. The ball was coming right to him. As he watched the ball grow smaller and smaller as it went higher and higher, his mind started wandering. In his mindís eye, he saw the ball drop down and land perfectly into his glove. The crowd was on its feet cheering at that magnificent catch. His team ran to him with their arms spread out as they surrounded him and vigorously patted him on the back. The coach called them together and made a show of giving Eric the game ball. They left the game and his parents bought him the biggest ice cream sundae heíd ever seen. That night he got to stay up as late as he wanted and even got to sit in his dadís favorite chair.

His mind returned to the game and he focused in on the ball as it seemed to slow and then hang in the air. After a moment, the ball started to get bigger and bigger as it started to get closer and closer to him. Eric moved back and then took two steps forward. He couldnít be sure where to stand. The ball could land anywhere. He was going to miss it.

Now his mind saw him miss the ball. It landed on the ground in a puff of dust and the batter was safe. The crowd started to boo him and his team all yelled at him. The game was over and no one would talk to him and the coach told everyone that it was his fault theyíd lost. His momma cried all the way home and his dad made him go right to bed without his supper. Eric knew, if he missed this ball, his life would be over.

In that moment, no one could have convinced Eric that it was just a pop fly. That, in the grand scheme of things, it didnít matter. It wasnít a big deal. Whether he caught it or not wasnít important. What mattered was that he remembered what the coach had taught him and did his best. Thatís life in a nutshell. God trains and teaches us to prepare us for the challenges of this world. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail but, in the end, what truly matters is that we remember whoís in control and trust in Him. After all, in light of eternity, whatís a little pop fly here and there?

Back on the field, the ball dropped like a stone towards second base. As the ball which had become the focus of his entire world raced towards him, Eric raised his glove and squeezed shut his eyes.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/09/11
This is a great story, especially today when parents can get a tad crazy over a Little League game. I liked how you left the story open-ended. Besides Eric if there was a runner on first and it was an infield fly ball then the infield rule goes into effect and the batter would be out anyway. Sorry I used to ump baseball games and got carried away there for a minute as your story took me back to those wonderful summer days.Great job!
Nancy Bucca06/12/11
You did a great job encapsulating the "outlook" idea in a fly ball, and kept me wondering up to the end what the outcome would be. The idea of imagining two different scenarios, one positive and other other negative, is the realistic that keeps the reader going to the end.
Leola Ogle 06/13/11
This delightful story took me back to my son's Little League days. What fun! But I also remember how nerve-wracking for my son and for me. LOL Loved the story and the good message tied in at the end. God bless!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/17/11
Congratulations for ranking 12th in level one!