Friday, March 12, 2010

Watching Cousin Morgan pitch for Robinson Rockets Softball


Don't you love photos like this? These girls have worked hard - in the tournament, in the season, and during long softball careers. They KNOW they have earned this tournament championship. They KNOW they deserve it. They fully expressed themselves on the field, and as a result they are genuinely and unabashedly happy about their achievement. I love love love photos like this.

Update: Robinson also won the Fort Worth Southwest Tournament this weekend.

Cousin Morgan, aka "Mo", is 3rd girl from right, in front row, hands on knees, letter jacketed, medallion dangling, cheeks smeared black, hair bowed in pink. She is only a sophomore, yet she is one of two starting pitchers on the team. The team itself is young: only two senior starters. They are a good team: a possible state championship contender.

Cousin Morgan is 5'7"ish; is an outstanding dancer - having taken classes all her life; and is a varsity basketball player. In softball, Morgan uses her long legs and her coordination to whip her hips and launch the ball towards the plate at 57 mph. Morgan throws fastball, drop ball, curve, change-up. Colleges have made inquiries. It would be good if she could increase her fastball velocity to 60 or 61 mph. That seems as if it could happen as her body fills out.

"Mo" is a fan friendly name. The fans yell "C'mon Mo!", and "C'mon Momo!"

Mo has the competitive killer instinct: she's coming right atcha, so you better be ready. I enjoy a quirky thing she does: after receiving the ball from the catcher, she turns 180 degrees and walks through the middle of the pitching circle and straight to the back side (the extreme second base side) of the pitching circle arc. On the way, many times, she launches a vicious baseball style submarine pitch from her right hand and across 6 inches of air and into her glove. Her glove is held with fingers pointing semi horizontal and semi downwards. She really slams the ball into her glove - really puts her shoulders into the throw. Really POPS the ball into her glove. It's AGGRESSIVE. As a long time observer of athletes: I LIKE it.

When Morgan doesn't pitch, she plays 1B. When she does pitch, her mom - Cousin KB - consistently yells at her from the stands: "C'mon honey: throw hard!" I said to KB: "Do you expect that she will go out there one inning and inexplicably forget to throw hard?" KB explained that, as Morgan tires in the late innings, she wants Morgan to put more focus into maintaining her FB velocity.

After every out, all infielders jog to the mound and high five Morgan. 7 innings x 3 outs per inning x 4 high fives per out = 84 high fives per game. I say the high fives are what are tiring Morgan out and causing decrease in velocity! She needs off season physical training geared towards withstanding all those high fives. Or, she needs to high five one infielder per out = 21 high fives per game.

I have a theory about the 84 high fives per game. There is action in softball, yet it is less action than, for instance, in baseball. Morgan strikes out too many batters. The infielders don't have enough to do, so they create a new thing to do: jog to the mound and high five the pitcher after every out. The infielders are just trying to stay busy and to contribute as best they can. Thats my theory.

I've seen Morgan pitch in Waco, and yesterday I saw her pitch in Fort Worth. The tournament bracket said "Waco Robinson". That must be wearisome for the Robinson girls. They are not Waco Robinson. They are not even Robinson Robinson. They are "Robinson". Period. There is exactly one high school in Robinson, TX.

Robinson traveled 90 miles with a good complement of fans. I enjoyed watching 8th grade cousin Madison visiting around the Robinson stands with various of her friends. And I enjoyed watching 3rd grade cousin Shelby playing beside the field with other Robinson children who are her friends - it's a nice, small town dynamic. The children are known to all, and the children feel secure in this environment: are surrounded and cocooned by friendly adults who have eyes on them, and who the children trust will protect them from potential harm. It never occurs to the Robinson children to fear anything. Of course, it never occurs to Shelby to fear anything because her mom Kerry watches her like a hawk. But that's another story, for another day, for when Kerry needs teasing.

Am reminded of watching, in Nov of last year, a Class 3A football playoff game between Graham and Bridgeport. Bridgeport brought maybe 2500 fans to the 8,000 seat Aledo Bearcat Stadium; Graham brought maybe 3000 fans. At halftime, 4 Bridgeport children went onto the field, as they were obviously accustomed to doing in their hometown, and began a game of touch. The game swelled in size as, gradually, other 10ish year old kids sprinted onto the field and into the game. All the kids obviously knew each other. A 10 year old sprinted onto the field and joined an offense. When the offense broke the huddle for the very next play, the new kid was instantly the QB: everyone knew everyone, and everyone knew he was the best QB in that huddle. And it happened twice! 60 seconds later, another kid sprinted into that same offense's huddle, only to instantly emerge as the new QB. As a sports fan, as a former touch football player, I was flabbergasted at the dynamic. But it was small town kids who knew each other, and everyone knew who should and should not be quarterbacking at any particular moment. The game, now about 8 Bridgeport kids against 8 Bridgeport kids, played out in front of maybe 5000+ fans in an 8,000 seat palace of a stadium. Good times.

So, yesterday, I watched parts of two softball games. For the entire tournament day, the Rockets won three games. Go Rockets.

Speaking of Shelby - and of 6 other tiny cousins + a pair of cats + the venerable and now dearly departed Max the dog - from 4 years ago, from the Nancy Cotharn Update: Workin It


Bro 64 said...

Love this story. Wish I could have been there to see Morgan pitch, and to hang out with KB and Kerry.

What are the odds of tiny Robinson, TX having enough depth of talent to form a dominant high school girl's softball team? That's awesome.

An alternative to the 84 high fives tiring Mo during a game; do 84 mid gloves. Instead of using the throwing arm and reaching high above the head, do a fist bump with your glove hand at chest level.

gcotharn said...

You would've liked being there. Right up your alley. The girls on all the teams have good skills: I was impressed. They only lack the speed of the boys. However, their speed fits perfectly into the compressed size of the field.

Glove bump is good idea. I'll let you suggest it!

jgiii said...

Greg, I googled Lisa Cotharn and hit your blog. I'm trying to find an old friend Lisa Cotharn, younger sister of Rhonda, Robinson graduate I'm pretty sure, probably around 1980. Saw her a while back in Waco but have forgotten her married name. If you know her, would appreciate a reply or let her know I'm looking for her. I recently became reaquainted via facebook with some common friends from a band she used to sing with a million years ago and I think she'd enjoy hearing from them.

gcotharn said...


I just saw the Lisa you want on Friday. Don't have her email readily at hand, but will find it for you and post it here over the weekend.