This is the story I save for my first year pitchers and share with them before their first game. It helps with nerves and butterflies but more importantly sets the bar high for the worst inning ever pitched!
So a little background. It was around 1996, I was 10 and our league just switched from slow pitch to fastpitch. I was a little over 5 feet tall and about 110 lbs - good size for 10. Although the rules had changed, the fields had not switched to accommodate fastpitch yet. The backstop was about 15-20 feet and there was not a cage like you see on every field now. They also had 8, 9 and 10 year olds playing together. I was a monster compared to most 8 year olds. The bleachers were directly behind home.
Now that you have the complete set up, here goes the worst inning ever pitched.
Excited, nervous, too oblivious to be scared, I took the mound. Batter stepped in the box. I did my windup and launched a 40 mph pitch towards the catcher. Let me remind you that compared to slow pitch, 40 mph might as well be 100 mph.
Not a surprise for first pitch ever. The catcher chased the ball down and tossed it back for pitch number two.
I whipped my arm with all my might and...
Threw it high. Really high. Cleared the back stop. And had my first hit by pitch, my friend's granny in the stands....
Ok, now I'm horrified. I get the ball back, from a parent, not my catcher and no surprise, walked the batter.
Batter number two steps up. Uneventful 4 straight balls and had walk number two.
Batter three digs in. This was my 8 year old friend that lives up the street. I launched the ball towards her and nailed her in the ribs. Sounded like a gun went off. She fell to the ground and started crying. The coaches ran to her, her parents ran on the field. Next thing I know the ambulance comes...
I of course move back to short stop before I could do any more damage.
Pretty terrible right? But it has a happen ending. First of all, my friend and Granny only had bruises. Obviously, I didn't quit like I should have. I kept practicing and working on pitching at home on my own. I would take my bucket of balls and pitch up a hill hoping they would roll back to me. I threw socks into my mirror. My mom had bruises all over until I finally started to bruise her palm. We get to the end of the season and made it to the championship game of the county tournament. The other pitcher did an amazing job and pitched all season and the entire tournament to get us to that game. There was a pitching limit (no more than 7 consecutive innings in 2 games). She pitched 4 innings in semi finals and 3 in the championship but she had to come out. You could just feel the excitement deflate for our team and fans when I had to go in to pitch.
Everyone felt it but me. I struck out the next 6 batters in a row. Completely amazed everyone. "Where did she come from?" The umpire asked my mom. She just smiled.
I recovered from that inning because pitching was all I wanted to do. No one would have blamed me for quitting. But I worked, I practiced and I did not make excuses. If you really want to do something, you will find a way to make it happen! No matter how ugly it may look in the beginning, you will survive and you can recover.