For the love of the game … or a T-shirt

It’s the bottom of the 7th, the bases are loaded and that kid you eat burritos with on Wednesdays is up to bat.

The whole team is cheering from the sidelines as you pick up the ball to lob it in over the plate. It’s not every day that the pitcher gets to throw to his own teammate.

The pitch goes in with a nice high arc. It’s asking to get crushed into left field, and it is. If there was a fence, this ball would be flying over it.

Everyone runs to high five and butt-smack the team’s MVP. Another game, another victory and another awesome intramural champ T-shirt.

Granted, this never actually happened to my team. But we did go 2-1-1 last year, which was a vast improvement from 2006’s 0-4 record.

And while we may not win every game, each year I long for the feeling of the cool dewy grass under my feet and a leather club securely over my left hand.

Every March I get the chance to gather my 15 closest friends as we embark on the epic journey of intramural co-ed softball.

The people on my team all had different ranges of softball skills and general athletic ability, but that was half of the fun.

Before the season began, we decided we should hold weekly practices to see just where we all stood in the grand scheme of things.

There’s really nothing like teaching your friend the correct way to hold a softball bat, or how to place a hand over her glove after she catches a ball so it doesn’t fall back out.

Intramural sports, sponsored by the University’s Recreation Center, give students the chance to get involved in a physical activity that offers competition, friendships and fun.

It also allows those students who played high school sports to get right back in the swing of things, quite literally.

It can also be a way to kick back and relax, taking out the stress of the semester on an opponent. You can treat the ball like it is that last calculus quiz and kick it squarely into the net.

Intramural sports can also be a way to make your parents proud. I remember the day I called up my dad, who is the varsity softball coach at Orrville High School, to tell him the good news.

I told him that me and the gang scrapped up a team and asked him if he had any tips for us.

“Well,” he said, “maybe you are old enough now to actually concentrate and not draw shapes in the infield dirt.”

I quickly explained to dear old dad that since there is not any dirt where we are playing, that this would not be a problem.

“Good, then make sure you fill me in on how you guys do.”

And fill him in I did. In fact, last year I would change my Facebook status to reflect how well my team did that day. I am sure my Facebook friends really appreciated this update, which showed up on their mini-feed once a week.

There were other intramural sports that I wanted to play, like football during my sophomore year, but my guy friends told me that I was not big enough or strong enough to participate. That hurt my feelings, of course, until I realized that I could be the obnoxious fan holding up signs with my friends’ names on them while shouting obscenities at the other team.

I love intramurals. Playing them, watching them and writing Facebook status updates about them. They are the best part of my week in April, not to mention the only exercise that I get all year long.

This year, my intramural team consists of all seniors, and we are itching to claim the championship. When I close my eyes, I can feel the soft cotton polyester blend T-shirt on my skin, and it makes me smile.