In honor of the little girl inside of me

Keera Ball, Sports Writer

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Many have told me, “Somewhere behind the athlete I am today is a little girl who fell in love with the game, and never looked back.” They tell me I should play for her.

This has been the inspiration for me to work hard and get better, because I know the little girl in me would be proud of the person and athlete I have become.

Growing up, softball was a game instilled in me since I started walking. Summer days and nights consisted of neighborhood whiffle ball tournaments, kickball games, and home run derbies.

As I got older, a very close friend, and “grandpa” coached softball at Coe College, where I would attend games. The girls on the team were my role models. I looked up to them and wanted to be just like them. I watched countless games underneath the press box, got double bubble gum out of the dugout after almost every game, and traveled to all of the Iowa Conference Tournaments supporting the Kohawks. I attended their hitting camps every Sunday in the winter, where I got to work one-on-one with my favorite players and learn what it was like to be a Kohawk.

During this time I was playing for the Saints softball program, where my team made countless memories and had a lot of success. We all loved traveling to tournaments, jamming out to music during rain delays, using window paint to write on the cars, and eating fruit and pumpkin muffins constantly. During our most memorable year, in 2011, we went 42-2, winning every tournament and placing third at state.

While playing for the Saints, I took hitting lessons from my favorite Kohawk players and from my personal coach, Harold Brumbaugh. I also loved watching college softball on television and fell in love with the Alabama Crimson Tide because Coach Patrick Murphy is from Iowa.

At that point in my softball career, my love for the game grew even stronger. Playing 50 games in the summer was not enough for me; which is when I started the next chapter of my softball career. I tried out and made the Eastern Iowa Barracudas, which was a traveling softball team determined to help players reach the next level. Playing for the Cudas, I made new friends, went outside my comfort zone, and improved as a player. Still to this day, I play for the Barracudas in the fall. Softball is my year-round sport.

The next step for me was playing at the high school level. Here I had to compete with and against seniors, while I was still in the eighth grade, and had not yet walked the halls of Xavier. During this year I was placed on varsity, where I was a pinch runner, started in six games, and grew mentally. During my freshman and sophomore seasons, I was a starter and lead-off hitter. I enjoyed playing with upperclassmen and had fun on and off the field with them. They took me in as a younger sister and even invited me to Kum & Go after every game for ritual slushies.

My love and passion for the game of softball has continually increased throughout my life. This game has allowed me to travel around the country, competing in a variety of states, and experiencing new cities. I am hopeful to continue my softball career at the collegiate level, in honor of the little girl inside of me.

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