Nothing like girls#039; softball back in the day

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2006

There was nothing like it. Standing out in the hot sun, sweat pouring down your face, in your eyes, so bad you could hardly see sometimes. The salty taste of sweat stayed around your mouth, and the whole front inside of your T-shirt was stained and wet from using it to wipe the front of your face.

The sleeves on your shirt weren't too much help after awhile.

That glove was perched and ready, and you were sitting on the edge waiting for the ball to be hit, not knowing which way it would fly. It might come at you on the ground, causing you to eat some dust, or it might come straight at you and pop right in your glove. And when I say &#8220pop,” I mean that popping sound where it lands squarely in there. And, boy, did it sting, too.

Or, that ball could take a bad hop and catch you off guard and roll right by you. That was always embarrassing.

And, when it was your turn at the plate, your heart began to pound because you knew your whole team was depending on you and counting on you. Plus, you knew everyone in the stands was watching.

There's nothing like hearing that cracking sound when you make perfect contact with the ball, and you watch it sail out to left or center field, and all you can think about is running as fast as you can.

I would worry about tripping if I had to run the bases now, but not back then.

I always kept my hair pulled back in a ponytail, and make-up was unheard of until I turned 14, and then all of a sudden something happened, and I started worrying about what the boys might think about me doing all that sweating.

Hmm, it never had bothered me before then.

At Day Memorial Park in Greenville, we had four girls' softball teams for the Greenville Parks and Recreation each summer. I started playing as soon as I was eligible, at age 11. We started out as Big Bear, but soon we changed to Rheem Manufacturing, which is rather ironic, since my mother worked there for over ten years.

In addition to Rheem, we had Pioneer Electric, Bill's Grocery and Pasquale's.

We were friends, buddies, classmates, you name it. Pattie Luckie Presley was, and still is, one of my best friends. That's how we met, playing softball. Other friends such as Susan Croley, Leah Thagard, Julie Armstrong, Leigh Anne Black, Daphne Morgan, Deedie Harrell, Lisa McRae, Sharon Cooper, Dee Hickman, Christy Herring, Donna Pearcey, Libby Wilson, Edna Frank and Tammy Smith were just a few of the young ladies I had the privilege to play with and against.

It was always a little hard to play against your buddies.

Whenever Susan Croley was pitching against our team, I was always afraid of hitting her by accident. But, those bumps, bruises and scrapes all came along with it.

Our coach was Mrs. Billie Braden, and she was great. She was always so patient with us. I don't think I would have had that much patience out in that hot sun like she did.

I played all four years that I could during those summers. My grandmother would fuss at me for &#8220playing too much ball and not practicing the piano enough.”

That's okay.

I wouldn't trade those hot, summer days with my friends for anything.

Regina Grayson is Managing Editor of the Luverne Journal, a sister publication of The Advocate. She can be reached at 334-335-3541, or