Project 3B

I don’t have time to be angry away from the field. So I brush it off, bottle it up and drink a tall glass of it before taking the mound.
—Brian Wilson, Giants closer and general badass

When I was a kid, the standard-bearer for bad-ass preparation tactics was the Siberian training montage in Rocky IV.

My brother and I would string a jump rope across the living room and mimic the uppercut practice while playing “Hearts on Fire” on repeat.

Naturally, when I decided—admittedly, after many large chalices of beer at Art’s, a local bar—that I would hire a coach to transform me from a decent-to-good centerfielder into a larger than life third baseman, I pled my case to my husband thusly: “I can’t be Rocky without a Mickey.”

A few keystrokes into Google, I struck gold. It turns out the indoor soccer arena near my home houses the Lansing Hit Club, a travel team and associated instructional organization. If you scroll down, you’ll see my coach, Justin Pierce. He must be cool, because he agreed to coach a 30-year-old woman. Also, he’s huge. That, or I’m just the size of the pre-teens he regularly coaches.

People, it is Monday afternoon and I am still sore. People, when I ran 8 miles in July, I wasn’t as exhausted as I was after the first round of drills. People: It. Was. Fucking. Sweet.

How sweet? So sweet that when I took off the batting glove I wear under my mitt, it was sticky—because I blew out my index fingernail and it was bleeding. So sweet that I didn’t flinch when I misjudged a short-hop grounder (which, coach says, “you have to charge that, Angela”) and took it off the muscle just below my clavicle. Three bruises, one bloodied fingertip, many sore muscles (I figure I did the equivalent of one billion squats) and copious pints of Two Hearted later, I’m hooked.

Some immediate takeaways: Throwing sidearm, my go-to for tosses when I’m tired or rushed, is no longer permitted. We’re moving to an over-the-top motion, which cuts down on the tailing action of a throw over longer distances and, frankly, is way easier.

The fielding fundamentals I’m learning at third are just mind-bogglingly fabulous. (You’ll get a whole column on this soon.) Some early winners: You “creep” into position instead of hunkering down, so you’ve always got momentum. You approach the ball in a way that carries you toward first, making the throw easier and more accurate. And, the real money trick: judging one- and two-hop grounders.

We’ll also be videoing my batting, which I’ll hopefully be able to post here.

Everyone needs goals, and since I don’t really have an enemy whose picture I can tuck into the edge of my mirror and then slowly crumple just before we face off in April, these are mine:

  1. I want to hit a triple.
  2. I want to hit a home run.
  3. I want to be a better third baseman than at least 80 percent of my counterparts in the two leagues I play in. Especially since “girl at third” = bull’s eye, I want to make it clear that my defense is not to be tested. Unless you want to be out.

I’ll be tweeting my softball adventures and misadventures with the hashtag #Project3B; you can follow me @motheroflight. Look for updates on Fridays.

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  1. […] despite my affinity for miming the Rocky training sequence, my adoration of complete badasses like Brian Wilson, and my freakish ability to not notice […]

  2. […] Sometimes, it doesn’t even hurt. It just bleeds. […]



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