Write a piece of fiction describing an incident that uses the phrase, “third time’s the charm.”

Billy wasn’t that interested in softball, but his dad was, and he’d volunteered to be the team’s coach! Billy had to look like he was enjoying himself and take his dad’s advice when they practiced at home. Besides the two practices a week, Billy and his dad played catch at home with the perfectly-sized mitt Dad bought him before the season began. He’d listened when he’d been shown how to hold the bat, and he really didn’t have trouble keeping his eye on the ball. He loved soccer, and you got to run around all the time playing soccer.

“C’mon Billy, it’s time to go. We’ve got to win this game, or we won’t get in the play-offs,” said Dad, and he hurried Billy out to the car. Dad was more excited than he was. Maybe it was because he just didn’t care about the game as much. So much standing around in the field, waiting until it was your turn to bat, then the moment when everyone was watching YOU as you stood there waiting for the pitcher to throw something you could actually hit! That was the hardest part. Sometimes he’s just bat at a poor throw just to get his turn over. Then he’d get more coaching when he got home!

On the ride, he tried to psych himself up for the game, to feel the enthusiasm his dad was showing as he smiled and drove. “This is going to be a good one, Billy. Are you ready for the Raiders?” Dad asked jovially.

“I’m ready Dad. I’ll hit the ball out of the park — if their pitcher is any good,” Billy replied.

“You do that, son. Remember to wait for the right pitch. Don’t waste your swing on the low balls. One of ’em will be just right. That’s the one you swing at,” said Dad.

“Okay, Dad,” Billy said. “I’ll try my best.”

They hustled out of the cars, all the parents more excited than the kids at the prospect of beating the Raiders and moving on to the play-offs. Luke and Matthew were tossing the ball back and forth when Billy joined them. He caught okay — except when it came zooming down at the ground from somewhere in the sky! Some of the guys on his team were really good, and they were excited, ready defeat the 9 year-olds on the other team.

The game was going pretty well, five innings played, and the score was 5-6. Only one more inning to go. Billy played outfield, as usual. Not that many balls reached him, but that was okay, except for the waiting, and the fear that one would come flying out of the sky, and everybody would be watching him!

Sixth inning half over, their team at bat. So far he hadn’t even had a turn at the plate. He knew Dad was anxious for him to get up there and hit the ball. He was thinking about how covered in dust his shoes were as he moved along the bench. He was startled when the coach said, “Hey Bill, get up here. You’re at bat!”

Yep, he had those butterflies in his tummy. He knew he could do it, but he’d wasn’t very confident that he would. He didn’t want to waste a strike on a ball he should have swung at.

The pitcher was pretty big for a 9 year-old, but he seemed to be throwing pretty well. The first pitch came at him. “Think quick,” he told himself: “No, it was going too far to the left. Don’t swing!”

“Ball,” yelled the umpire.

Okay. In position again. Feet firm, body flexed. This ball was okay. He swung, but missed.

“Strike 1″.

The butterflies were flapping. He got in position again, watched the arc of the ball as it came toward him. Geez, it was going to hit him in the face. He jerked to one side, and the catcher asked if he was okay.” Sure,” he said.

“Ball 2,” called the ump.

Now he was a bit angry.

When the next ball came he thought, “I’m going hit you, you miserable ball, right into the pitcher!” But he didn’t, and he knew he’d let his judgment be clouded by his anger. So he stood up shook his arms and legs, took  few deep breaths, and got into position again.

“Just do what you’re supposed to do,” he said to himself. “Cool and calm. Relaxed but ready.” The ball came. It was sweet, right where it should be. He swung and it made that satisfying thwack the told him it was flying.

“Run, Billy,” yelled several voices, and he did. All the way to third base. It was that good! No third out for him. There was cheering, and he felt great! The next batter hit a grounder, tough to catch, but it put Billy home.

As he reached home plate the ump slapped him on the back and said, “Third time’s a charm. I think you’re going to be a great hitter, just keep on playin’ with your head in the game,” he said.

And he and dad did, right through the play-offs, until the best team in their division beat them again. Billy had more fun playing after he realized he really could hit that ball, and that he get his head into the game, too.” What Dad had been telling him was beginning to make sense. Maybe next season, they’d be the victors!

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