Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kickball Season 5: Preview

See below for an UPDATE following Wednesday's game.

You know how a few months ago, I said that the Knightdale co-ed kickball league was on hiatus until the Fall? Yeah, well...they changed their minds. And thus, kickball is back, right now! My 5th season begins tonight.

Does the Knightdale Parks and Recreation Department's about face mean that there was overwhelming support and interest for an earlier return of kickball? Well...there are four teams signed up, which is hardly "overwhelming". But four teams is the bare minimum in order to have a viable league, and I guess it's worth the town's while even with only four, because Season 3 (Spring 2011) also had only four teams.

One of the opposing teams is a returning team from the Fall whom we finished ahead of. The other two, I don't know anything about. Based on that...could we make a run at the league title this season? Our team's performance has steadily improved over the years. Still, though...it's safe to assume that at least one of these other teams will be really, really good. So let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Besides, there is a rule change this season which could neutralize the effect of my pitching (if it had much of an effect to begin with). The strike zone will be much smaller this season, which could take away the ability to throw my full repertoire of crazy, spinning, side-to-side pitches. But that doesn't mean I won't try! I'll probably have to take a little bit of movement off my pitches in order to hit the strike zone consistently.

A smaller strike zone will almost certainly mean fewer strikeouts this season. I may not even get any. But could a smaller strike zone bait opposing batters into taking more pitches, actually resulting in more strikeouts? I really have no idea what's going to happen tonight. If I can't hit the strike zone consistently with my usual pitching method (or at least a somewhat muted version of it), then we'll likely have someone else pitch, and I'll go play the field.

I won't be playing in every game anyway, because this season, Amber wants to play, too! This will be her first season of kickball since before she was pregnant (Fall 2010). There are four games (including tonight's) in which we plan to bring the whole family out and both play, while someone we trust (we've had multiple volunteers) watches Marla during the game. In the other six games (generally those with later start times), only one of us will play, while the other stays home with Marla. That makes 7 games for Amber, and 7 games for me. (We'll figure out a plan for the double-elimination playoffs later.)

As for offense...no rule changes there, I can still try to reach base the same way I've always done it: bunting from the leadoff position. At least until the opponents catch on and adjust their defense accordingly, that is. (I say this every season, and it hasn't happened yet, save for a team or two.)

As always, I'll be keeping track of all my stats here. Unless I end up not pitching, in which case...no pitching stats, of course. Maybe I could keep track of "putouts" or "outfield assists" or something.

UPDATE 9:47p (after our first game): We won, 9-1! This is the pattern we've exhibited nearly every season - start out strong before the other teams figure it out. I did not get any strikeouts, but after the first couple of innings I was able to hit the strike zone consistently enough to be able to spin the ball most of the time, so that'll be the plan going forward. (Although, I found that the best way to get somebody to two strikes is to roll it straight and hope they kick it foul, rather than spin it and risk throwing a ball.) Also, all four teams are "returning" teams to at least some extent, so it won't be easy.

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