Beatiful spring sunshine; a shimmering green expanse of grass, broken only by the orange slash of a home run fence; the steady background hum of the motorway. This was Opening Day for the Herts Raptors, on the road in Southampton. This is where it starts.
Whatever history shows of the season, I can say that I scored the first Raptors run. And that felt good. Mustangs were clearly a more experienced and powerful side but, after falling behind, Raptors battled back. I led off an inning — maybe the fourth — with a walk and then a steal, before the batter and I telepathically went for a hit and run and I scored on a ground ball bouncing through the infield.
Overall my batting was a rally-killer, so apologies to the team for that. Regular readers of this blog — of which I'm sure there are many — know I spent much of last season moaning about my approach at the plate. It's one area where I feel I should do a whole lot better and I needed to be more aggressive yesterday. I shall console myself that I got better each time I had to swing, going from three watched strikes, to a foul tip, to a ground-out. Had I come up again, presumably I'd have got a hit!
My fielding was more successful. I had a couple of unnecessarily dramatic catches of infield pop-ups, and didn't drop anything that came my way at first base (you can tell I have such high expectations). For rookies, the Raptors were really solid in the field. Tom made an excellent debut behind the plate; Phil and Bobby made tough plays look easy from third and short; and Jim made a really good over the shoulder grab at second base. William was our second debutant catcher of the day and he did a fine job blocking my debut effort off the mound. But more of that another time….
No feeling could have been better than winning, especially winning against the odds, but there were plenty of smiles as the Raptors packed up for the day. We did not beat ourselves and, in fact, we made some really good plays. And perhaps more importantly, we had the same spirit that the team had last year — to play our best, and to have fun doing it.