Tigers vs. Blast
April 4, 1998

L 9-8

The Tiger's Den Hello and welcome to The Tiger's Den!
Today's guest columnist is

Coach Rodney was looking for a guest Tiger to do game commentary this week. He asked Jasmine, a beautiful princess and a pretty tough second baseman, for a recommendation. Jasmine suggested Rajah, her pet tiger and personal baseball coach. Rajah was more than willing to help out Coach Rodney.

Hello, this is Rajah. I was happy to attend today's game between the Tigers and the Blast in Sugar Land. It's my first time to visit Texas. I spend most of my time in beautiful Agrabah, where I am an active member of the Agrabah Softball Association (ASA). I was excited to see a real softball game, hopefully free of magic spells and flying carpets! As Coach Rodney requested, I asked my friend Genie to produce a gorgeous blue sky and bright sunny weather so the Tigers could play.

The Tigers were the visiting team today. As such, they hit first. Rachel F. started us off with a screaming grounder up the middle. After a strikeout, Carla banged a single and so did Rachel D. The bases were loaded for Caitlin. With a full count on her, she hit an ugly pitch from Coach Rodney and drove in 2 runs! Then Alissa came to the plate and slapped the ball for a hit and an RBI! With 2 runners on, Sarah came to the plate. Coach Rodney gave her the signal to lay down a bunt -- and Sarah responded with a perfect bunt! There was an overthrow too, so a run scored and Alissa and Sarah moved up a base. Melissa faced the big tough Blast pitcher with one out and "ducks on the pond" (that's an old expression I heard Jasmine use once -- it means runners in scoring position). Melissa cracked a hit to drive in Alissa -- and Alissa was our 5th run! Yippee! That's all the runs the Tigers were allowed to score, so they hit the field for defense.

In the bottom of the first, the Blast proved why they came into the game 4-1. They have some mighty powerful hitters. After an opening hit batsman, the next Blast batter popped up a Texas leaguer (that's a fly ball that lands right between infielders and outfielders). Rachel F. made a hustling play to grab the ball and almost forced the runner at second base. Kristen then struck out a batter. The cleanup hitter came to the plate and lifted a towering fly ball over Alissa's head at first. Alissa made a good play to gather the ball in at first and prevent further damage. Unfortunately, the meat of the Blast order came up and rang up some tough hits, including one that Caitlin and Carla had to hustle up in the outfield! The Blast had scored 5 runs too. After one inning, the game was knotted up 5-5.

As exciting as offense was in the first inning, defense was the highlight in the second inning! The Tigers had two swinging strikeouts to start the inning. Then Rachel F. hit her trademark screaming ground ball to third base. It was destined to be a long hit to the outfield. Then here's the wierd part. I saw the other coach quickly grab a magic lamp, rub it, and conjure up a genie. Would you believe that the genie helped the Blast third baseman snag that hot ground ball and fire on to first base to get the fleet-footed Rachel F. out? The Blast (plus some help from a genie) went to the bottom of the second inning still tied 5-5. In the bottom of the second inning, Kristen struck out the first Blast hitter. Then Coach Rodney had a premonition what was going to happen next. He quickly asked Tigger to ask me (Rajah) to ask Genie to be on hand for the next batter. Sure enough, the next Blast batter hit a hot ground ball to Caitlin at third base. Caitlin grabbed it confidently and gunned the ball to first base. Alissa made an outstanding stretch to make the out!! Wow!! I asked Genie what he did to help Caitlin and Alissa make the play. Genie said "I didn't do anything...I knew they could make the play, so I let them do it themselves.". Outstanding play by Caitlin and Alissa in a close game! Then Kristen decided to end the inning herself. She struck out the final Blast batter. After two innings, it was still 5-5.

In the third inning, the Tigers bared their fangs and showed how tough they could be. Lisa came to the plate first. Coach Rodney called for the bunt. After Sarah's bunt, all the Blast players were sure Lisa would bunt. After an opening ball, Lisa swung away. The next pitch she lined up for a fake bunt. The next pitch was a called bunt. Then a fake bunt. The Blast defense was so confused, not knowing what Lisa was going to do! Finally Coach Rodney came in to pitch and Lisa smacked a ground ball to second base. A nifty little play by the second baseman resulted in an out. Carla followed with a line drive double to right field. Rachel D. came to the plate and brought Carla in with a hit. Is it me, or does it seem like Rachel D. gets a good hit every time she comes to the plate? Caitlin followed with a hit to center field. Alissa came to the plate and smacked a fielder's choice that moved up the runners. Then Sarah came to the plate and cracked a 2-RBI hit. A final strikeout and the Tigers had scored 3! That meant one more defensive stand against the top of the Blast lineup. The Tigers were clinging to an 8-5 lead.

The Tigers hit the field and the Blast team came to the plate. It sure looked like the Blast coaches were rubbing on magic lamps over in their dugout, because it looked like they had some genie-action on their side. The powerful Blast leadoff hitter hit a line drive at Carla, the new Tiger pitcher. It looked like something (a genie?) knocked it out of her glove. Carla wheeled and fired to first base, but it was too late. The next batter hit a powerful (genie-aided?) hit to the outfield. Caitlin and Michelle went for it. They collided and Michelle came out of it with no glove! But she had the hustle, and she scooted to retrieve the ball from left-center field. Ouch -- a triple! Another hit put the tying run at second base... gulp! I asked Coach Rodney if my buddy Genie could help out. Coach Rodney said no, he wanted his team to play under their own power. It sure got exciting! An infield hit put the tying run on third and the winning run at second base! Coach Rodney got the Tiger defense set up, including the equipment-covered Alissa at the plate. An infield hit drove in the tying run. Then the tall, powerful Blast pitcher came to the plate. Everyone was ready for the play at the plate. She hit a tough grounder to third base -- Rachel gloved it and fired home to the ready Alissa. Unfortunately, the run scored and the game was over. The Tigers lost a close game 9-8.

Although it goes down as a loss, Coach Rodney was proud of the Tigers. They stood toe-to-toe with the once-defeated Blast team. They matched them run for run and great play for great play, until finally the Blast squeaked out one more run. Maybe we'll see these guys in the playoffs in a month or so. Coach Rodney had a tough time choosing today's player of the game. There was lots of clutch hitting, especially in the first and third inning. And there was excellent hustle on defense, maybe the best this year! Coach Rodney chose Alissa as the Top Tiger because she was everywhere today! She had two excellent strokes at the plate, an RBI, hustling defense at first base and at catcher, and a gorgeous stretch to make the out on Caitlin Caminiti's rocket from third base! Congratulations Alissa!

-- Rajah  (click here to find out more about me)


(the look on my face when I saw the opposing coach pull out a magic lamp and conjure up a genie!)