There was a schedule change at the last moment and we were not going to play until the afternoon on Friday in Henderson. This was great as we could take our time getting to the hotel on Thursday night and not worry about having to get up too early. We spent the first night getting settled in and I went down to the casino to have a few drinks with the other parents. So far, so good.
On Friday we got to the fields an hour early, and it was still 106 degrees at 4pm. Get used to it. When they switched our bracket, we somehow ended up facing 2 of the top 10 seeds in the pool play rounds. These teams were just better than us. It came as no surprise that we lost. What was frustrating was how we lost. Twice we had innings where we allowed 7+ runs. Most of those runs scored on errors and circus plays. On the plus side, Rabbit went 2-3 over the two games. He is getting quite good at waiting on the (admittedly) lousy curveball. He pitched OK, getting tagged when he left the ball up, and fielded his position quite well. He did commit the cardinal sin in RF however, and misplayed a single into a triple. That was during one of those innings.
We knew coming into Saturday that we could play as many as 3 games, or as few as one. Our first game was win or go home. Luckily, we were facing another AA squad. In fact, these opponents were over matched by us. And yet, we struggled to find hits early. We played unbelievable defense and had great pitching, but could not break through. In the 4th, we broke through. Rabbit had 2 hits that game, bringing in 4 runs and sailed one over the CF head. We coasted out to an easy win. The boys were now back on track and looking like a team that came to play. Frustratingly that confidence did not carry over. We lost game 4 to a Majors team and were never even close to competitive. Game 5, our third game in 6 hours, was another "win or go home" contest.
Rabbit started, and was staked to a 2-0 lead in our first at-bat. The entire team was tired and was struggling in the field. Rabbit was tired and leaving the ball up. This is a dangerous combination. It was 4-2 after the first, then 7-2 when Rabbit was pulled with two outs in the second. It ended up 10-2 after 2, and we were preparing for another short game. Then the bats came calling once again. We battled, fought, and left it all out there. When the game was called for time in the 5th it was now 11-7 and we were due up. A tremendous rally. But, a loss none the less.
For the weekend we went 1-4. Three of the 4 teams to beat us won their brackets. The fourth team made the Championship quarterfinals. We had played the toughest teams in the Western US. The boys were exhausted after 6 hours in the 100+ heat, but still had enough energy to enjoy the pool and arcade. A well earned treat. Rabbit went 4-6 on the weekend and pitched fairly well. Working with the new coach is paying off, and we knew he would struggle a bit.
Now the bad news. The communication on this team has broken down entirely. I am very frustrated by many things. We have been with Blue Wave for 1.5 years now and to be certain, Rabbit is a dramatically better player for it. However, the grass is always greener, and we are going to review a few other programs before we commit to the 12U squad. It is not an issue of playing time, field performance or personnel. Rather, I am confused by some decisions that are made, and there is no opportunity to seek clarity. Who knows, it may all be for naught. We have a good group of kids, and parents, and are having fun again. Hopefully that will be enough.