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Perry League T-ballers were ready to take the Gaunt Park field Friday, June 9, for another evening of play. A write up from that night appeared in in the June 16 edition of the News. (Submitted photo by Don Steinhilber)

Abundant happiness at Friday T-ball

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By Yunus Brevik and Margi and Rob Gay

Friday evening, June 17, was breezy and comfortable, a source of relief after the excessive heat earlier in the week. If you happened to be at Gaunt Park just before 6:30 p.m you would have been watching nearly 20 children running circles in the sand while waiting for another game of Yellow Springs Perry League T-ball.

These games are a dazzling display of talent. Kai Eyorokon-Miller, 6, was first at bat and then spent much of the game waiting for batters to send balls his way. His ability to drop to one knee, or squat, or reach and catch those line drives will likely soon get him noticed by scouts from the majors.

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Amandine Bouquet-Sabre, who is not 8 but 8 and ¾, she wants you to know, was second to bat. She made a base hit look easy and she also, at a recent Mills Lawn talent show, recited a poem she composed. A true Renaissance child.

Not all our players are school age yet. We often have several little ones who are shy and mighty. Ahva Eyorokon-Miller, 2, may be young yet had no problem getting a hit. The same goes for Joaquin Schissler, 3, Charlotte Eliason, 3, and Adeline Myers, 2. Ember Deal, 3, previously mesmerized by chasing balls, had a turn at bat and seemed equally mesmerized at making contact with the ball. One of our 3 year olds came to bat and pointed to the letters on his bat when asked his name. Thank you mom, Madalyn, for being there and filming and letting me know this quiet hitter was Jack Snyder. Isabel Whitmore, 2, was second to last at bat and requested dad hold her while she hit. This is a perfectly acceptable way for 2-year-olds to get their hit. Isabel also showcased an ability to throw the ball backward.

Not all our players play typical games of T-ball. Elsie Johnson, 3, was observed playing a solitary version of baseball. She would throw, chase and then catch her own offering. The timing and coordination required to execute this skill to perfection is rare to see! After several at-bats during the main game and still with plenty of energy at 8 p.m., Evelyn Schmidt, 6, and brother Theo, 4, played their own game of T-ball: swinging an imaginary bat, hitting the imaginary ball and running the bases.

Violet Ficke, 7, was our third batter and loaded the bases after her hit. Fiona Garcia, 7, made the hit that brought in our first run. Then those two disappeared into the field, likely catching up with Amber Ficke and Thea Brevik, both 6, and both of whom neither fielded nor hit balls all evening, yet nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed whatever 90-minute game they played.

Easton Straw, 6, early to bat and suffering a minor scrape while sliding into base, later enjoyed some serious play-wrestling in the outfield with River Brevik, 3. Easton, demonstrating a special kindness and care developed in his role as big brother, made sure to tell River to watch out for his cleats so they could wrestle safely. George Draper, 4, had a solid hit and also enjoyed time in the outfield, making an appearance as Darth Vadar and using The Force on a few adults.

Viola Murillo, 9, and her brother, Leo, 7, made their Perry League debut this week. Viola was up to bat at least twice and both times delivered blazing hits. She eventually joined those on the field and was lightning quick to catch balls. Leo made it his job to bring balls to the T. He brought back so many over the course of the night that he had time to practice various return techniques.

Initially he would roll the balls back to the T. Then he started tossing the balls back. A few times he would walk them back and hand them over. And toward the end of the game he was bouncing them. When I told him he brought more balls than anyone else all night, he said “I only missed two [among the hits and balls rolled out for each hit].”

Two other notable helpers this evening were Gwen Jordan and Eleanor Skinner, both 6. They assisted along first base collecting balls, often seen with a hatful of them.

Ripley Adkins, 6, brought his own bat. He told me he’d probably hit the ball over the fence, or at least to the grass, and he spoke the truth. Brees Clements, 6, another serious one determined to put the ball out into the grass, followed Ripley’s homer with one of his own. A rare combination of back-to-back jacks!

The fresh chalk lines continue to be a source of great joy and creativity. Imogene Cowperthwaite, 5, could be found sitting near third base pouring handfuls over her legs. By the evening’s end she was basically covered head to toe in chalk. Isabel Whitmore, 2, also developed an almost angelic tone resulting from a hearty application of chalk and sand during play. She decorated her hat with chalk as well. A small group of children spent much of the evening coordinating efforts to create masterpieces in the sand and chalk. They all happened to be barefoot, and we speculate that may have aided their artistic expression. Even volunteer coach Yunus Brevik had a large handful of chalk poured over his arm. Maybe it was a good luck blessing since this was his first time at the T.

Unfortunately, the exact child cannot be credited for this kindness. The child had a hat and a large smile and was giggling and running away in a blur. It’s possible this blur was Chuck or Harry Tritschler, 5 and 4 respectively, or Henry Johnson, 5. Any of those three were a blur as they ran the bases and ran through the field.

Another child whose speed is impressive is Oly (Oh-Lee) Johnson-Fairlee, recently 5. He had at least a half dozen at bats, has been mastering the art of solid contact with the ball, often chooses the wooden bat, and has a distinct swing that starts with the bat mostly pointing to the pitcher’s mound before he winds it back to swing. He ran noticeably faster each time he made the trip to first base. Erma Herrera, 6, displayed the kind of focus at bat that must have been honed over the past year of kindergarten. Raelynn Michaels, 6, is one of our southpaw hitters and we learned her birthday is on New Year’s Eve. You learn all sorts of interesting facts at T-ball.

A few attendees were asked why they love T-ball. Claire Reynolds shared it very succinctly, “My son is happy!” Her son Ren, 5, likes playing with other kids. Lindsey Engler said, “All the kids get to play.” Her son Allan, 3, agreed when asked: he “likes [his] new friends.” His attention was focused on locating his grandfather. Once found, the affection between them was evident. Few things in life are more precious than the love a grandparent has for their heirs. Their special bond was openly reflected on the field.

Happiness is abundant at our games. Aria Johnson, 7, was bursting with enthusiasm as she approached the T. Sidney Holtsberry, 6, had an ear-to-ear smile as she came to bat. Shiloh Deal, 5, stopped during her run home and broke out in a huge smile upon recognizing her friend Willa Ewalt, 4. They waved to each other with a contagious sort of glee. Laurelai Myers, 6, was not only happy to bat, but also happy to share, before swinging the bat, that she has been mini-golfing before.

Josie Boyer, 4, was our last at bat. There were high expectations of a home run and she did not disappoint. That’s this week’s Yellow Springs Perry League T-Ball. Our all-volunteer program is non-competitive, free, and open to children aged 2 to 9, regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, spiritual inclination or practice, ability or disability. We have six more games this season and invite you to join us.

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