Column: Line Drives — Oddities make watching more fun

[This is my column in the May 15 issue of The Commercial Review.]

As the saying goes, you can watch baseball (or softball) every day and see something new each time.

Just this season, I’ve seen things I have never seen before — either as a player, as a fan or as a reporter.

Some of them are flukes, and others are just dominating performances at the plate or on the field.
At the very least, they’re impressive accomplishments.

The most recent is the 13 runs the Fort Recovery baseball team scored in the second inning Wednesday against Lincolnview to win the Division IV sectional title, 15-0.

I’ve been witness to some gaudy line scores in my time, but I have never seen 13 runs scored in one inning.

FRHS senior Blake Boughman hit two, two-RBI singles in the inning as the Indians batted around twice. Some players aren’t able to get three at bats in a game, and Kyle Schroer almost had three in one inning.

To put it lightly, it was an offensive show.

Staying on the offensive side, Jay County sophomore McKayla Norris’s home run as part of a 10-run fourth inning Friday against Muncie Central was the first grand slam I have witnessed.

The best part about her grand salami was her reaction when she realized it went over the fence. Norris, who was starting in a spot role as the Patriots dealt with suspensions, had the biggest grin on her face when she realized her first career home run was of the grand slam variety.

“At the time it felt unreal,” she after the game. “To hit my first grand slam, I would honestly say it felt pretty good.”
Seeing moments like these make my job fun.

But the athletic feats do not stop there.

On Thursday against Bellmont, JCHS pitcher Larissa Boles struck out eight consecutive batters over three innings. She ended up striking out nine in the contest, and is averaging more than eight strikeouts per game.

I have never seen someone strike out batters with as much frequency as she does. She has notched double-digit strikeout totals in half of the 14 games she’s pitched. She has punched out a season-high 13 — one off her career high — twice, once in a 5-1 win against Norwell and again in a 12-2 clubbing of Marion.

She is a big reason why Jay County tied the school record for wins on Saturday and has a chance to break it at home tonight against Anderson.

I’ve also gotten to see my fair share of strange plays on the diamond as well.

During a softball game April 23 at South Adams, a Starfire runner attempted to take third base on a passed ball. As the Randolph Southern catcher stood up to make the throw, the ball hit the helmet of the batter and ricocheted over the third base dugout and out of play.

I have been a part of a similar play when I was playing modified softball — a variation of fast-pitch. As I was situated behind the plate, one particular right-handed batter would not get out of the batter’s box as his teammate took a big lead off third base. Without saying a word I made it clear I was frustrated with the fact he would not get out of my way. A few innings later in a comparable situation, another one of his teammates tried to steal third on me.

With a slight lead, I didn’t care about the runner. I had another prerogative.

Once again the batter did not move, and instead of stepping out of the way to pick off the runner, I nailed the batter in the side of the helmet with the ball. He wouldn’t stand in my way again.

I did it on purpose, but I had never seen the ball hit the batter accidentally until the South Adams game against Randolph Southern.

The same game featured the collision in the outfield between Alyssa Bluhm and Morgan Alberson, who suffered a fracture of her C7 vertebrate. Alberson, a freshman, has since had her neck brace removed and will make a full recovery.

Those odd plays are what make sports played on a diamond my favorite. You can see things you’ve never seen before no matter how many games you have watched.

And there’s still much more baseball and softball to be played this season.

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