“Baseball is what gets inside you. It’s what lights you up, you can’t deny that.
(Dottie Hanson): It just got too hard.
It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”
~ A League of Their Own
She is one of 18 girls ever to play in the Little League World Series (LLWS) in all of its 68 years. She throws a 70 mph pitch and she’s only 13!
What do these three things have in common?
If you haven’t heard, Mo’ne is, by far, the most inspiring story of the summer. She is the pitcher for the Philadelphia Taney Dragons and if that doesn’t ring a bell, you may recognize her from the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated.
She pitched a complete game shutout against South Nashville Tennessee. Striking out eight players, no walks and only letting two hits through the entire game, making it the first shutout thrown by a female player in LLWS history. For the record a shutout means no runs scored—zero!
I have a very special place in my heart for baseball. As a kid whose parents tried a non-traditional (thanks mom and dad) approach to dealing with ADD, it was a pretty significant part of my childhood.
Baseball was one of the very first sports to make an appearance in my life (as an outlet for my “extra energy”) and I threw myself into it head first. I loved the game and as with most things we enjoy, I was good at it. Being a part of a team, working in unison towards one goal had such a comforting, motivating quality. For a kid to feel included, needed and counted on in this way, is something I wish for all young children, ADD or not.
When my team was “on,” when everything was clicking, the team was one. Each play, hit and reflex was anticipated by the whole. Everything sort of slows down in these moments. I remember feeling like I was no longer in control, at least consciously. It was like I was watching the game happen from outside of myself. I was on autopilot, I could make no mistakes. The team could make no mistakes.
The game and its skills start to break down into their purest form. There is no thinking, just doing and reacting. In those moments of magic, that is when athletes, true athletes rise above themselves and achieve real greatness.
That magic is something I have been fortunate enough to experience only a handful of times. Being in the zone like that is something that is fleeting. You cannot hold onto it, cage it, save it for later or even tap into it by trying harder, though I’m sure I’m not the only who has tried. It cannot be coaxed, called upon or recreated.
Being able to access this state of being, this bubble of precision and expertise, is the true difference between just playing the game and being truly great at it. It is the difference between cracking under pressure and shutting it out.
It is thriving under pressure. It is being mentally tough.
Though I’ve moved on from baseball physically, the mental toughness part is something I still struggle with. I can get so easily distracted, scared or nervous when my mental game isn’t what it should be. That’s what’s so truly inspiring about Mo’ne: at such a young age she has done the unthinkable, she has found that mental magic, and unlike the rest of us, she lives in it, and makes it look easy.
When asked to describe the way she pitches Mo’ne said:
“I throw my curveball like Clayton Kershaw and my fastball like Mo’ne Davis.”
And in response to how she might deal with all the increased media attention?
“I can always say no.”
Mo’ne Davis has the whole country wishing they could “throw like a girl.” C’ mon Mo’ne!
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Editor: Travis May