just so you know, it ain’t just about my kids.
Skyline handed Lowell a 4-1 loss, taking 2 of 3 in the Transbay Series, which pitted OAL’s league champ against their counterparts from San Francisco. They lost the opener at Laney College, then came from behind at Lowell’s home field with a dramatic 6-5 victory. The final game was played at Owen Jones (aka Laber Field) on a perfect Wednesday afternoon.
The Skyline roster is almost entirely comprised of OGSL girls. Natalie has either been teammate or opponent of all of them, I’ve coached a number of them, going back as far as when they were 8 year olds. Emily Eguchi Miller is my business partner’s daughter, in fact Allan and I met one summer years ago as our girls played travel ball together. Back in 2004, Emily was one of the girls who pitched for the Vipers and was a big part of one of my most memorable experiences.
We played a tournament in Benicia in ’04 when Glen Vondrick and I coached together. It’s Saturday afternoon, and our third game of the day on a weekend where I was in charge – Glen had taken his family to Europe on vacation, it coincided with a tournament weekend, so we’re without Martina, our #1 pitcher. We still have 4 girls who can pitch, Whitney, Emily, Barbara, and Natalie.
Our girls are down by a couple runs early on, but rally a couple times. The score is back and forth and we find ourselves ahead late in the game. Emily’s on the mound and I have 2 players on the bench, Barbara and Natalie, whom I instruct to stay ready in case Emily tires or gets into trouble. They’re warming up and are ready at moment’s notice, understanding and agreeable that their turn may come soon, but Emily is battling, working hard, making great pitches with solid defense behind her. I can’t recall how we got the last out, but I know they were home team with the tying run on base when we finally finished.
We played against some pretty tough teams that year, wins were hard fought and savored. So after the final out is recorded, there’s a joyful scrum on the infield, Emily is being mobbed just off the first base line. Elation, then a sigh of relief for me, we held. The ritual of clearing out the dugout, gathering bats and helmets, I’ve got kids and parents helping out, we hustle because there’s another game right after ours.
I’d barely had enough time to reflect when I was blindsided by Barbara’s parents, not happy that she wasn’t on the field when that last out took place. That’s another story, and with the exception of that weekend, I’ve been on great terms with them. But they were also there when Emily pitched the winning game against Lowell. She did a great job of keeping batters off balance, locating her fastball and flipping a few well placed changeups, but what impressed me most was her incredible defense. Emily throws hard for sure, but she gets rid of the ball in a heartbeat. Her quickness allowed her to field a bunt that was barely popped up in front of the plate (could have been the catcher’s ball), catching it for the out and doubling the runner off first on a bunt and run.
As Paul Keener introduced the Skyline roster in the post game awards ceremony, we found out that Emily was named league MVP and first team all-league pitcher.