We held onto a razor thin one-run lead as I took to the mound for the final inning. The adrenaline from my slide into second and scoring the go-ahead run had ebbed and now I could feel the pain up and down my thigh, my uniform stained red from blood.
Warner Bros’ first batter drove my first pitch to deep left for a double. I struck out the next batter to the cheers of DIC fans. Cowan called to remind me, “One down; two to go, Jacky!” I forced a smile. The next batter drilled my third pitch into right field. A great throw from right held him at first, but the other runner wound up on third base.
Warner Bros.’ brutish clean-up batter came to the plate, tension thick everywhere. If he connected it would be game over. He pounded the plate with his bat and I hurled a pitch at him. He connected, the ball sailing high toward the gap between first and second, where our second base player, Linda Levin, was stationed. Warner Bros. fans rose to their feet, cheering in anticipation, DIC fans slumping.
All eyes turned to Linda as she ran in what seemed to be a combination of blurring speed and slow motion. She leaped impossibly high, stretched her arm up as high as it would go, and above the Warner Bros.’ fans cheers we heard the heavy thump! as the ball landed firmly in her glove.
Linda fell back to earth, driven down to one knee. She turned to see the Warner Bros. player at first base running toward her, his eyes going wide as he realized she’d snagged the line drive. In desperation, he spun and started scrambling back toward first base.
Still on one knee, Linda dug into her mitt, pulled the ball from it and, mustering all her strength, rocketed the softball toward first base, past the runner, right into Mike Cowan’s glove, the Warner Bros.’ player doubled off, the game over.
For long seconds everyone was silent, none believing what they’d seen. Then the DIC fans and players screamed, shouted and cheered, rejoicing, all of us converging on Linda. Bobby, Mike Cowan and I grabbed Linda and hoisted her up onto our shoulders, players and fans leaping up and down all around us.
The season was over. We were undefeated. We were 13 and 0. We were champions.