This blog was written by Laura Grosso, a student in my Baseball and Statistics class at Quinnipiac University.
Many baseball players have earned themselves nicknames from famous plays or characteristics. When I was younger I was never able to have a nickname, a name like Laura is not open for much variation. However, in my baseball career I earned a name unlike any other that I will forever be proud of “Clutch.”
While most girls grew up playing softball, I broke the gender barriers by playing baseball with the boys. At first it was accepted, girls played from tee-ball to machine pitch, however once Triple-A began, all the girls switched to the more “gender appropriate” sports. I was left to be the only girl in the league for five years.My original nickname was the uninventive, “The girl.” I played baseball from 4 to 13. Each year I got all kinds of skeptical looks- then I picked up a bat. I do not mean to brag, or be oh so “modest” but I was a great player- all the teams wanted me. And while I made the most of all my years in Little League, my most memorable and rewarding came from the last season I played for the As, and led my team to win the World Series (in my town). Not many 13 year olds can say that. That season began like any other, awkward stares as I showed up to my first practice, whispers left and right of how they had the girl. I had the same coaches for the last 4 years, however this was my first season with a new team. This was the first time I had felt out of my element. I knew no one and had to prove myself to my 13 year-old teammates. My teammates weren’t thrilled, but I would change their minds. Our team made it through the season undefeated and into the playoffs. I will never forget my last game. The game had entered extra innings; the score had been tied for what felt like hours. The game had begun at 6 p.m. and it was now reaching 9 o’clock. The weather fueled the atmosphere- freezing cold (40 in June is not natural), and undying wind. I had 2 layers of Under Armour on, and our team was tired- we still had homework to get done before school the next morning. The umps were ready to call the game after one more inning, but we were not ready to give up. We were the home team and now it was the bottom of our last inning, our last chance. Our 1st batter stepped up to bat. First pitch- strike. Second- strike. Third- he’s out. Our 2nd player repeated the process. However, our 3rd was able to scrape by and hit a single. I checked the batting order- I was up. Up with a runner on, two outs, and the win riding on my shoulders. No pressure. I stepped up to bat, trying not to become stressed out. The first ball went past the catcher, the runner advanced to second. We now had a chance- the stakes were now even higher. Slightly shaken up, I swung at the second pitch, regardless of where it fell- strike. Ball. Ball. Strike. It was now a full count, and I was not ready to let the situation get to me- I had to prove “the girl” could play. I choked up on the bat. I swear the ball came at me in slow motion, and I belted it. It went soaring straight over the center fielder’s head. Shocked, I ran to first, my teammate sprinted into home. I continued to run the bases, unaware of my walk off and what had happened. My team rushed onto the field, crowding me, slapping my helmet, yelling, “Way to go Clutch!” “Clutch! Clutch,” they chanted and I could not wipe the smile off my face. We had won our World Series, and I had earned a legacy- and a pretty nice trophy.
While I had to transition to softball in high school, I never lost my passion for baseball, or forgot about my “glory days.” I can’t say I never earned a nickname in my years as a softball player, but I’d like to think my baseball nickname could transcend the barriers between my 2 different worlds.