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Inside the Cupboard

It is that time of year again when the regular season for high school softball and baseball is winding down. With five schools in our county and some playing in the same district, everyone can’t move forward to the playoffs. Some have had a banner year and I look forward to seeing them advance to the state playoffs. Some have struggled and will not have the excitement of playing past the regular season. No matter the status of the softball and baseball teams, they have played a full season of baseball or softball. What has come out of that is often asked by many at the end of the season. Hopefully, if the player loves the sport that he or she plays, a lot of fond memories have made their way into their lives. Baseball and softball are very much team sports. There is no “I” in team and there is no room for egos in a team sport. I have watched more games of softball and especially baseball than you can imagine. I have seen teams with so much talent not make it past the regular season. I have seen teams with much less talent make it through district, state, and win a national championship. That team had a ton of heart, a ton of care for their fellow teammates. When a player had a bad game, whether it was at the plate, in the field, or on the mound, his teammates were there to pick him up. I have seen teams with nine superstars, one at every position so concerned with their own self exploitation to get to the next level that they lost sight of their team and their goals. That doesn’t work in team sports. I once had a coach say to me, “I’ll take a team with heart over a team with talent any day of the week.” I would have to agree with him on that. A team with heart never gives up. A team with heart never places blame or worries about not being the superstar of the team. The team concept doesn’t develop overnight. It is nurtured and built from tee ball through middle school, high school, college and the professional level. Look at the major league players in a game. Watch their actions when the game is going on. Are they exploding when one of their teammates misses a ball or strikes out? Or are they giving him a thumbs up, a ‘that’s okay, you’ll get it next time, the ball is going to fall for you soon’? If you watch them carefully, it won’t take you long to spot the players who were coached as a team from the day they stepped on the field. They were told everyone is equal and everyone will make mistakes. If you play the game long enough, you will make an error at some point. It is not the error a good coach is critiquing but how the player himself and his teammates handle that error. And that’s the way it is this week from “Inside the Cupboard.”

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