Defense shines, but bats fall silent in 12-4 loss to Windham
Windham - 25 July 2016 by Brad Godette: In Game #4 on the 21st, Pitching wasn’t for everyone. It takes guts to walk to the mound all by yourself with everyone watching. There’s no place to hide, no excuses you can make. It’s just you and the baseball. And it can get awfully lonely pretty quick.
Several Goffstown players stepped up to that daunting challenge in the past week and made their Little League pitching debuts. Seven year-old Owen Sereno, eight year-old Stevie Damboise, and on Thursday night, July 21st, against Windham it was eight year-old Aidan Izzett’s turn.
Pitching in your first game has been described as the same feeling you get when you’re on a rollercoaster for the first time, at the point when you’ve just crested that first hill and the world falls silent and you hang suspended for that half-second just before the bottom drops out. The point when sheer terror and pure joy meet in the rarest of unions.
Aidan’s first pitch was high for a ball. Then a strike, then several more high pitches. A foul-tip, a walk, then 3 more high pitches. The coach called “time” and walked out to meet with his newest pitcher.
“You ok?” the coach asked.
Aidan stared straight ahead rubbing the baseball. “Yes.”
“You’re throwing hard, which is great, but you’re missing high.”
“I know,” he said, still rubbing the ball.
“You seem a little out of breath. Are you feeling a bit amped up?”
“My heart is beating fast.”
“I think that’s normal.”
“You having fun?”
At this moment, Aidan turned to his coach as if he had just been asked the dumbest question he had ever been asked in his whole entire life and said with unbridled enthusiasm. “Oh yeah!”
As a coach of youth sports, hearing from one of your players that they are having the time of their life is perhaps the greatest compliment you can possibly hope to get, so the coach smiled, patted Aidan on the back and told him to get back on the mound and enjoy himself. And Aidan did just that, throwing hard, throwing high, throwing strikes, and loving every second of it.
Goffstown trailed 5-3 after the first inning, falling behind mainly due to some shaky defense and a few throwing errors. But then the defense came together after that, and put together several innings of highlight reel material. With a Windham runner at first, a Windham batter drilled a shot to the third base side. Harrison Neff, playing shortstop took one step to his right and took the wicked line-drive off his collarbone. The shot knocked Harrison to his knees, but seeing the ball land in front of him, he picked it up while kneeling on the ground and flipped it over to Aidre Reeves at second base for the brilliant force-out. The game stopped so the coaches could check on Harrison, and immediately a cry for paper towels and ice were heard. Blood was dripping. But funny enough the blood wasn’t from Harrison. Max Bridgeman, playing Center Field just happened to have a random bloody nose at that exact same moment.
The next inning with a Windham runner at 3rd, a pitched ball by Harrison got past catcher Brady Godette and the runner came home. But for the second time this week, Brady hustled back, flipped the ball to the pitcher who had run in to cover the plate, and the runner was tagged out.
Unfortunately, the defense could only hold for so long. Goffstown needed base runners and they were hard to come by. Zachary Godette (single) and Max Bridgeman (double) had hits. So did Levi Locke (single). Levi’s single was special because after hitting the ball hard all season, he finally got that hit he said he prayed for the night before (Answered, thank you!). And Griffin Wilkinson, Brady Godette, Stevie Damboise and Connor Bernard each walked. There just wasn’t enough of the walks/hits strung together at one time to produce many runs and Goffstown fell 12-4 to a good Windham team.
If you had arrived late and just walked up after the game and watched Goffstown pack up their bags, you would have thought Goffstown had won by 8 runs, not lost by 8 runs. Levi was there describing his hit, Harrison was getting kudos for his performance and answering questions from all the parents about how his collarbone felt, Adrie was beaming after that great play at second base, Brady was going over to everyone saying, “Did you see that play I made? That’s twice I’ve done that!” and Max and Zachary, showing their usual leadership were going up and down the bench telling everyone “Great job! Nice work tonight!”
But the best scene of all was watching Aidan. Sometimes shy, tonight he was walking back to his car with his head up and his chest just slightly more puffed, tossing and flipping a baseball in his hands. A Little League pitcher with a story to tell: “That third batter,” he said. “I tried to strike him out with my change-up, but the ump said it missed a little low. Next time I’ll try a two-seam fastball in that situation.” Everyone smiled. Everyone believed him. Next time indeed!
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Since 1987, the hard work and winning spirit of the coaches, parents and, most importantly, the players, have raised more than $4.5 million for the Jimmy Fund.