The Dugout Diaries


Jillian Blackburn, Staff Writer

Blue Gator softball season has begun and it has been interesting, to say the least. I didn’t know much about the game prior to a few weeks ago when I became “manager” of the team. My lack of knowledge kept me ignorant to what ACTUALLY goes down in a game. The first day I tried to go to practice, I tried to bat off of the machine. Needless to say, I decided to take stats instead. As manager, I have front-row seats to the game and all of the action that goes down during it. My official job is to keep track of the stat book during the game (which is no small task). When I’m not taking stats, it’s a whole different ball game. Pun intended.

Chewing sunflower seeds is a long-time softball tradition. I’ve never been a huge fan of the salty snack, but I’ve taken a liking to them after spending my past few Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays stepping on soggy shells and being asked to “pass the seeds”. It’s actually kind of fun to do once you get the hang of it. It’s sort of like a game, except you are playing against yourself and the only reward you get is an uncomfortable sodium bloat. If you’re struggling to find your rhythm of cracking, spitting, and chewing, consult a trusted softball player. It’s all about that upper lip tuck.

Now, everyone is aware of the sunflower seed stereotype that softball players are stuck with. What I didn’t know is that these ladies are also some feisty cheerleaders! Cheering at games is one of my top five favorite pastimes, so I was thrilled when I first heard junior Hailey Young scream “IN THE DIRT,” followed by the echoes of the rest of the team. When a girl is up to bat, everyone in the dugout is anticipating that first swing. The tension is relieved when someone – usually junior Elise Juneau – finally starts a chant. I’ve taken on the task of writing new personalized cheers for each player, many of which have been rejected. I’m working on it. The cheering is probably my favorite part of any softball game, even when it gets incredibly obnoxious. If anything, it’s better that way.  Those cheers really get you fired up; I know they do because they even have me feeling ready to run bases.

Coach Whitt has been another one of the highlights of the season so far. Some of the best moments are when he’s singing freshman Kaitlyn “Mouse” Romero’s batting cheer to himself when he thinks no one else can hear him. We can, Coach, and we are working on getting you a mic to perform between innings. If you were to ask any of Coach Whitt’s players what they think of him, I’m sure they’d all say that he’s an awesome coach and he pushes you to be your best, and all of that other sweet stuff. In addition to all of the thanks and praise, many of them would probably say, “Yee haw.”