One of my personal favorite things the past few years has been playing kickball in the SJSL. It’s made my Tuesday nights a lot of fun and something I always look forward to (barring the tearing of elbow ligaments of course).
This season we had a lot of new faces to the team, as well as the most players we’ve ever had to manage on a roster. This would prove to be a challenge, especially early on in the season. It’s difficult to ease in so many new faces while also keeping the veterans happy that we are fielding a competitive team as well.
I have to admit that at the end of week 3 I was a bit concerned. Many of our vetereans were concerned that we weren’t the same team that we had been in the past, and I was starting to believe that as well. I had confidence that we could figure out a way to maximize everyone’s talent and field a strong team that was still having fun as well.
Having 14 people on a roster made it very difficult for everyone to get comfortable as there was constant rotations and we weren’t getting many at bats, some games I only got 2! So first I worked on finding fielding combinations that could maximize our existing talent and slowly ease in our new people without putting too much pressure on them to perform. In time we found a couple of combinations that did work, and they really worked mostly because of the unselfishness of our players in being willing to sit more than they’d like to let a teammate get a shot at playing too.
Over the past few weeks we have been an elite fielding team and it’s great to being back at that level.
Our batting order was pretty tough to figure out too. I really wanted to bunch our better kickers as much as possible at the top, especially since we weren’t getting many at bats any more. This was easy to figure out, but that left a big void in the bottom of our lineup.
I tried to mix up some speed in the bottom and hope that our new girls could keep the ball on the ground and an aggressive base runner could take advantage and pretty much execute hit and runs all the time. For a couple of weeks it was looking like no run production would be had from the bottom, but at the end of the season it finally clicked and the hit and run approach at the bottom began to pay off in a big way.
While this hasn’t been the easiest team to manage and win with in kickball, figuring it out and getting it to work has been very rewarding. We have finished the regular season with a very impressive 6-2 record and were in every game we played in. More importantly we found ways to win the close ones and really ran the bases well as a team (to the frustration of other teams at times).
A great regular season with a great bunch of players, and looking forward to the playoffs next week.