Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Two football thoughts from the softball diamond

I love softball. I’ve been in a total of four different leagues this summer, and I only have one regret: that I didn’t find a fifth or sixth.

There’s just something about being on a softball diamond on a summer night that makes me smile.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the BYU/Oklahoma game all summer, and two recent experiences on the softball diamond have given me insights into how the game could turn out on Saturday.

My softball team has been both the favorite and the underdog in games. One time in particular we were the lowest seed in the championship tournament. We were facing a team (the Ball Nutz, if you must know) that supposedly hadn’t lost a single game in 2-3 years. The team was full of ex-high school baseball players who were now owners of their own landscaping businesses. A few of them probably skipped a few rent payments on their South Provo apartments to buy that new softball bat, and it produced a lot of runs and a lot of wins.

They beat us 35-9 the first time we played during the regular season, scoring 21 runs in the first inning. So they weren’t exactly shaking in their boots when they squared off against us in the tournament.

I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say we played out of our heads. Our defense was incredible and the runs were steady. We ended up beating the Ball Nutz and handing them their first loss in years.

Lesson #1: Any team can lose at any time. Nothing is certain.

Another time, last night in fact, my team was clearly the favorite. Riding a 4-game win streak in which we completely dominated our opponents, we came into last night’s game riding high and quickly scored nine runs in the first inning.

After that inning we went to sleep. We figured the game was over.

Little did we know the other team was still very much alive. They kept chipping and chipping away at our score, and even though we knew we needed to wake up and re-light a fire in our bellies we just couldn’t do it.

We won the game, but the experience was poignant. If you’re not emotionally fired up for a game you can’t just flip a switch and turn it on.

Lesson #2: It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re the clear favorite.

Both of these lessons work to BYU’s advantage on Saturday. Oklahoma is big and bad, but they can be beaten. No team is invincible.

Also, we’re talking about a Sooner team that wants a national championship. They want revenge on Texas and Florida. Their hearts are not set on BYU—they are looking far down the road, and it’s hard to get emotionally invested in a game in which you have no interest.

I like BYU’s chances on Saturday. Just keep swinging the bats--good things will happen.


Russ Nelson said...

I totally see your point, but I do have to disagree with you. OU has everything to lose in this game. They have an entire season in the dumps if they lose and I feel they will come out hungry for a win. I just hope BYU plays out of their minds and puts on a show.

Eliot said...

I agree with Russ that OU probably won't be overlooking us. They may be looking further down the road, but their next game is Idaho State, so I don't see that distracting them. Plus, it's the season opener, and you better believe they're looking to make a statement, especially against a ranked out-of-conference opponent.

You are right that any team can lose at any time (e.g. USC about once a year). Go Cougs!