"You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out it was the other way around all the time." I never realized how true this quote from Jim Bouton was until my senior year of high school came around. I first picked up the nine inch, five ounce ball of rubber, thin string, and leather when I was four years old and it had its grip locked on me from that day forward. It was now my senior year and I was on a school bus with forty-five guys on the way to a baseball game two hours away in Lake Charles. We were on the way to play the defending state and national champion Barbe Buccaneers, who had embarrassed us 13-3 on our home field the year before. The emotions were high because we knew that if we were going to stand a chance against the number one team in the country, we were going to have to give this game everything that we had to offer. The biggest obstacle we had been through at this point was talking our coach into letting Bryce, our star pitcher, pitch this game. Weeks ago coach was just going to accept the loss and he didn't think it was worth using our best guy against a team that we didn't have a chance to beat, but after the first game that Bryce pitched we all knew that if he could pitch like that again then we could beat anybody.
I remember getting off the bus and feeling the pressure immediately. The atmosphere at this park was much different than any other high school I had ever been to. I spent several minutes looking up at the "intimidator" board with all of Barbe's program stats that included things such as: players taken in the MLB draft, 30 win seasons (my school has never had a 30 win season and this school has a stat on how many 30 win seasons they have had), highest winning percentage in a season, and most home runs in a season, all of which I was amazed to see. Next to the stats board was a huge sign that read "Home of the 2014 National Champion Barbe Buccaneers".