I’ve been a baseball/softball fan since I was 5 and thought that the New York Mets named their stadium after me. 😉 I love a good sports story and am looking forward to Fast-Pitch Love by Clay Cormany. Enjoy!
What does a high school boy do if he thinks the girl of his dreams will be an assistant for the softball team his mother coaches? Easy! He volunteers to be an assistant, too. That’s what Jace Waldron does in Fast-Pitch Love (CleanReads.com, formerly Astraea Press). It might be his only chance to make a move on Stephanie Thornapple. But Jace’s plans go awry and soon he faces the double challenge of coaching a team of mischievous preteen girls and learning there is more to romance than physical attraction.
Jace and Sylvia hit pop-ups, liners, bouncers, and grounders over and over again to the Valkyries while Martha watched and evaluated each player. Most of the girls showed improvement. The one exception was Lauren, who lacked the speed and agility to catch anything not hit straight to her. At one point she slammed her glove on the ground.
“It’s hopeless!” she yelled, almost in tears. “I’m a worthless klutz! I’m quitting the team.” She began to stomp toward the bench.
“Come on, Lauren!” Martha shouted. “Don’t quit! We need you!”
“Why — for a mascot?” Lauren shot back.
“No, we need you to play,” Martha continued. “You could be a great hitter. We all saw that last week. You just need more practice in the field.”
“Jace, why don’t you grab your glove and go out there with Lauren?” Sylvia suggested.
Jace, who had just finished a round of hitting balls, gave her a puzzled look. “What good will that do?”
“Just stand next to her and encourage her.”
He looked toward his mother, pacing along the first-base foul line. She nodded.
Jace ran behind the backstop where his mitt rested on the ground. After putting it on, he had the strange feeling that something soft and gooey was on his fingers. What could it be and how did it get there? No time to think about it.
He trotted out next to Lauren as Sylvia prepared to hit the next ball. It went toward Angela in right field, but Jace didn’t see her catch it, because his eyes were riveted on his glove. Something was happening inside of it, something bad. The gooey feeling was still there, but now there was also a feeling of heat that grew more intense by the second. The next ball off Sylvia’s bat went toward center field, but Jace didn’t see that one caught either. He was too busy tearing at his glove, flinging it away, and clawing at his hand, which felt as if it were on fire. He stumbled to his knees.
“Arrrrrgh,” he bellowed, as he rubbed his hand back and forth on the grass, trying to remove the slimy substance.
“What’s the matter, Jace?” Martha cried out. “Why are you –?”
“Success!” shouted Heather.
“Sweet revenge!” added Dana.
“What do you mean?” said Sylvia, as the two girls jumped up and down with glee. “What did you do to him?”
“Nothing much,” said Heather with a grin. “Just put some capsaicin cream in his glove when he wasn’t looking.”
“Why?” asked Martha, who seemed more curious than upset.
“For nearly killing us with that ball he hit last week. That’s what for,” answered Dana.
“Yeah, we figured we’d teach him a lesson,” said Heather.
“But that was an accident, girls,” said Martha. “What you did was deliberate.”
“He won’t die,” said Heather, pointing at Jace, who continued to rub his hand on the grass. A small circle of girls assembled around him, faces glowing with smirks and hands restraining laughter. Even Lauren seemed to enjoy the spectacle.
Before writing Fast-Pitch Love, Clay Cormany spent over 20 years as a writer and editor for Ohio’s State Board of Education. His creative work has appeared in numerous central Ohio publications, including the Columbus Dispatch and Spring Street, Columbus State Community College’s literary magazine. He has also edited numerous books, including a three-volume biography of Christopher Columbus and A Death Prolonged by Dr. Jeff Gordon, which received coverage in the New York Times and on PBS. Fast-Pitch Love reflects the two years Cormany spent interacting with softball players and coaches both in practice and competition. He plans to contribute half of the earnings from sale of the book to girls softball programs in central Ohio and elsewhere.