Moms on the Mound

Yup. That was the name of the sporting event I attended in Lexington, Mass., last week. It was a hoot.

My daughter, now age 50, never played softball. Her tomboy mother (me) played four years of varsity softball in high school and dabbled in marching band. Alix seriously excelled in music and only dabbled in sports. So, I was tickled when she told me about this Mom’s league. “Seriously? Softball?” I asked.

She explained that a friend she met as a fellow board member in town convinced her to join. “You’ll love it. It’s slow pitch. There are eight teams and we play every Sunday morning in May and June. Only a few of our girls have ever played before, but most of us are terrible and it’s all just for fun. We aren’t a good team, but we brunch better than anybody!” Alix joined.

I wanted to go. The weather forecast was for hot followed by scorching, but I thought, at 9:00A.M., how bad can it be? They play for 90 minutes or six innings, whichever comes first. I survived on the bleachers in the shade.

Alix told me more on the way to the ballfield. Their team, the Royals, wears blue “Moms on the Mound” tee shirts and has 16 members. Sometimes 10 show up, sometimes 13. The Royals fielded 9 last Sunday. Their opponents, Orange, had only 8. “So how does that work?” I asked.

“Well, we usually field 10 because we need 4 in the outfield.” I tried not to laugh out loud. She continued, “Everybody who shows up bats, whether it’s 9 or 16.”

I asked, “The batting order is the whole team?”

“Yup. All the way through, everybody.” OK ….

The Orange Team took the field first. The tiny little pitcher, somebody’s Mom, began to warm up. Her first pitch was a blooper ball. It went up in the air maybe 20 feet and came down behind the umpire. I thought to myself, poor thing, she just let it get away from her.

She stepped off the pitcher’s mound, moved about ten feet closer to home plate and tried again. The next pitch went higher but descended closer to the plate. I tried very hard not to harm myself stifling the laugh. But she was trying.

The first hitter stepped into the batter’s box. The pitcher remained well forward of the mound and continued her lobbing pitches. One she threw straight up in the air, and caught it herself. I didn’t hear the umpire’s call on that one.

The only strike I saw was when the ball descended across the batter’s shoulder and dropped diagonally across her knees. A few hitters tried swinging over their head to hit her pitches, but mostly they just took their base on balls.

The bases filled up with Royals. Oh, this is going great. At one point, with the bases loaded, I thought to myself, “If there’s a hit, the play is at home or third.” The next batter hit a slow grounder and the second baseMom threw it to first … over the first baseMom’s head. Everyone scored. And yelled, and laughed. I threw away my inner coaching manual, and cheered with them.

In between innings, the Royals noshed at their brunch table near my bleacher seat. The gals take turns each Sunday, two at a time, providing the spread of goodies: Danish, mini quiches, fruit, designer donuts, muffins, even a platter of bacon. And Mimosas – or just Prosecco. The Orange team had a single plate of snacks.

It was yummy tummy time – including visiting husbands, kids and one visiting white-haired mother. My cold lemonade washed down some fancy local pastry between cheers.

In her first at-bat, my middle-aged daughter hit a single, and beat the throw to first. She smiled and I yelled, “Go Royals!” Hey, this was FUN!

When the Royals took the field, I was really encouraged. Our stately pitcher slid perfect pitches straight across the plate in mid-strike zone … very slowly. They were so easy to hit that the Orange team repeatedly loaded the bases and scored multiple runs every inning. Not to worry. The league has a mercy rule to move the game along. Anytime one team scores six runs in an inning, their at-bat is over, no matter how many outs are posted.

At one point, I noticed the Royals pitcher was covering right field for the Orange team. She then asked another Royal to substitute when it was her turn at bat. Did I mention that this was a pretty loose interpretation of softball?

The final score was unfortunately lopsided. But Alix’s teammate was right when she invited her to the Sunday fun – they play brunch better than anybody. Last Sunday’s hostesses scored the real grand slam of the day.

Marcy O’Brien can be reached at Moby.32@hotmail.com.


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