Monday, October 13, 2008


So sorry we haven't been on the blog over a month. Things here in Niamey during September and October go a bit NUTS. That stands for Niamey Universal Tournament of Softball. Yes, for a month and a half, that means that we eat, drink, and sleep with softball. Now, those of you who know me must be thinking that this was a great thing for me. However, there is a lot of work put into all of this from practicing three or more times a week, playing scrimmage games, getting the field ready, organizing teams, etc. We actually had three teams from Sahel Academy this year. I am told that is a record. I was also told that since I am the dorm dad, I had to play and coach and organize, and drive, and ump, etc.(Yes,Peter, that was a run-on sentence!) While I had absolutely no idea of what I was getting myself into, it turned out to be a lot of fun. Two of our teams played in the social division, and my team, in the competitive. On Friday, the 10th of October, we began with a couple of games, but Saturday and Sunday are the big days. While we only had to play 3 games on Saturday, our youngest team had to play 4 games. Now, some of you players out there may be saying, big deal, I have played 7 games in one day before. Don't forget, this was all during the temperatures of right around 100 degrees. I never looked at the temp that day because I didn't want to be depressed.

Anyway, on to the real team, comprised of mostly high school boys, one teacher, the director of the school, and myself. These boys really put it all together when they had to. I saw all of them really grow up as ball players. Their skills improved dramatically during the tournament. There were only 3 other teams there for us to compete against, but all of them were made up of men and women from around Niamey and Ouagadougou. There were some fantastic hitters from the embassy here and from Ouaga. We only had to play 5 total games to win the whole thing. Only once did I ever think we would not win. I told these guys 6 weeks ago that I thought we had all the makings of a champion. They sure made me look good!

We opened the tournament with a fairly easy win on Saturday morning. While that was fun, we really started getting into the drama of a tourny like this one. Our second game, against the Angels from Ouaga, had our guys looking like deer caught in headlights the first two innings. They scored 6 unanswered runs against us. But, as we took the field, we just simply said, one at a time and let's go have some fun with this. We chipped away and won 12-7 at the end. The following game was against the team that we knew best. Two of the boys dads played on this team from the embassy here. They had some Marines on their team with a ton of speed. Well, our worst fears were realized when they beat us 9-4. We had beaten this team before, but our bats just weren't swinging. So, we were #2 behind that team heading into the semi's. As it turns out, we had to play those Angels again. But this time, the boys had some confidence. However, we still fell behind and heading into the last inning, we were down by 5 runs. Sounds impossible, yes, but all I said was that nobody makes an out, we bat all the way around and win this thing. Several hits later, with no outs our boy Phil hit a triple with the bases loaded and the 6th and winning run crossed the plate and we were headed to the final games against the USA embassy team...again. What drama, after that game, you would have thought we were the Cubs who just won the World Series(or one playoff game:)) We had one hour to wait before the final game and our boys were flying high!

Needless to say, the embassy team stood no chance against our guys. Everyone hit this last game and just kept hitting, It was great fun. They only reason why they scored was because of an error and a questionable call, but that still didn't discourage us, we just went out and had a 2 out- three run rally.

We were behind in every game except for the last one. I guess we were a bit of the cardiac kids, and little too much for my old heart, but I am still alive today.

One thing our boys really wanted to do was to allow Jesus to be seen in our play and I think they accomplished just that. They were always encouraging to one another, the other teams and the umps. Way to go Sahel Suns! I thought as the last fly ball was going through the air, I began my celebratory run in from the outfield (before Ryan even caught it) thinking....for all you Reds fans....And this one belongs to the Suns!

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