Softball season ended in Fortuna, our team demolishing Del Norte, 15-0, then fighting Eel River to win by a run, bringing us to the final championship game against our own Redwood Empire Little League Giants. Yes, we drove to Fortuna a third time in one week just to watch a variation of the same game we’ve been watching most of the season – luckily, it was a great game. One that we lost, barely.

What I remember more than the score is the way the wind tore through the fields, unseasonable and requiring layers of clothes more appropriate for January than June. Also, that after feeling both off and ambivalent for most of the season, Kaylee helped secure the second win with a perfect bunt down the third base line, a beautiful steal at home that sent infield dust flying and a solid line drive double at her next at-bat. 

Being 14 isn’t easy. Neither is playing softball, especially when you’re 14 and your best friends are a town away, preferring to hang out on the Plaza rather than in Eureka at the fields. Hence, the ambivalence. But for Bobby and I, listening to our determined, focused, hard-working softball champ act complain about practice and insist she doesn’t even want to play, really, has broken our hearts a bit. Whatever she says to us, though, she’d never not try. She’s an ace good sport and team player. The slump of the last few games upset her – which is why watching her break it, jog back to the dugout with a lighter step and satisfied smile, is the memory that stuck, whatever the final score.