Our season has officially begun, and we have made the most of the first two weekends of play.
Our opening tournament was in Las Cruces, N.M., which made for a long travel day. The day had its surprises. When we touched down in Dallas, there was snow on the runway, and it definitely made a lot of the Florida girls nervous about having chilly temperatures for our first weekend of play.
I almost got left behind at the Dallas airport when I headed to what I thought was the nearest bathroom, forgetting my phone and not realizing we were boarding so quickly. Fortunately I made it back just in time after walking from 14 gates away. Once we took off for El Paso, many of the girls took advantage of the free Disney movies that were available on the seat-back televisions.
After we arrived in El Paso, our bus picked us up and we headed towards Las Cruces. We ate a delicious lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant and then headed back to the hotel to settle in before we began practice for the day.
A soon as we began batting practice, it was easy to see we were ready to play. The ball was flying from our bats and soaring over the fence into the trees. New Mexico State’s baseball team was practicing at the same time, and as they drove in between their field and the softball field, they were nearly hit twice by home run balls. Once practice was over, we headed back to the hotel for dinner and then settled into bed after a long day of traveling.
The next morning we all woke early in anticipation of game day. We were like kids waiting for Santa, not able to sleep because we were filled with excitement.
Finally it was time to head to the field for game No. 1, and we started off strong, scoring in the first inning. We played a hard-fought game against No. 9 Nebraska, and in the end it didn’t finish in our favor. We lost 4-3, but I think that loss really lit a fire beneath us. We mercy-ruled our next three opponents and came out with a big win against Nebraska on Sunday, finishing off the tournament on a high note.
We played early Sunday morning, and our flight back to Tallahassee didn’t leave until the next day, so we got to spend the day exploring Las Cruces. We had planned to go sand sledding, but unfortunately for us the dunes were closed that day, so we headed out to the shops around town.
We came away with some really great gifts for family members and a few for ourselves. The most popular purchases of the day were handmade jewelry, hacky sacks (a team favorite) and “Chanchitos,” little wooden pig figurines. These Chanchitos originated in Pomaire, Chile, and are believed to bring good luck. Many of the girls bought the little pigs for friends and family that they hold dear to their hearts.
The next day we headed home. The next few days were busy, filled with practices and catching up on missed classes. It wasn’t long before we were on the field again for our first home series, and we showed how comfortable we are at JoAnne Graf Field, going 6-0 on the weekend. We had three more mercy-rule victories and four shutouts.
As we remain on our mission to OKC, the team continues to mesh and learn how to play for one another. We are continuing to strengthen the bond between us, and to help us out, our coaching staff brought in Brian Cain, our sports psychologist. We have plenty of activities planned while he’s here, but I will save that for next time. As always, Go Noles!