The pitcher, already exhausted from pitching a full game that morning, wiped the sweat off her brow. Though the road to the championship game had been rocky, starting off with a first-game loss in the double-elimination playoffs, we had managed to play our way to the championship game of a national softball tournament. The championship game, our fourth game of the day, could not have been more exciting.
Tied at the bottom of the final inning, there were two outs and bases were loaded. The pitcher, realizing the importance of her next few pitches, stared down at the batter and began her motion. Foot striking the sand and arm slapping her side, the pitcher mustered the strength to shoot a 60 mph fastball at the batter. Standing just 43 feet away from the pitcher's mound, the batter has a mere 0.420 seconds to react. Will the batter hit the ball? Will she send it flying over the fielders' heads for a run-scoring base hit, to end our hopes for a championship win?
You may expect a gallant account of a fielder's diving catch to keep our gold medal dreams alive. Nevertheless, the 0.420 seconds of uncertainty as the ball sped towards the batter were more important than the result of that last pitch.
Standing in right field, I learned the importance of will power and perseverance. Already having played eight hours of softball that day, beginning with our first game at 6:30 in the morning, that we were all exhausted is an understatement. Yet, we submitted to neither our fatigue nor our talented opponents. We decided to put everything we had into that game: our hearts, our years of practice, and our sweat. And, for the first time, struck a sense of doubt into the hearts of our undefeated rivals. Sports have taught me how capable players can be when they work together towards a single aim.
Although we had lost our first game that day, even early failure can often be overcome with great determination. How many of our great leaders have first fallen before rising to make a difference? How many experiments have failed before scientists successfully found the cure to a disease? I realized then that perseverance is the key to success in all aspects of life. Who knew 0.420 seconds could be so meaningful.
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