Friday was hot, sweltering and blazing, with a little extra sizzle thrown in for good measure. And since it's monsoon season, there was a chance of late storms, which prompted the tournament director to bump up the Babe Ruth Pacific Southwest Regional game times from 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
I was made aware of this change at about 12:45 p.m., and it takes an hour to get to Surprise from Phoenix in traffic. Needless to say, I wasn't going to make it on time. I arrived as the 13s' and 14s' games were wrapping up.
Trying not to panic, I checked the scores of both and decided to cover the 14s since they were tied and the 13s trailed by a lot and would most likely play another game later in the day.
The 14s didn't disappoint. They ended up winning by one in extra innings. I did my interviews with the 14s and got ready for the 13s' second game. They lost again and were eliminated from the tournament.
Afterward, a parent in the 13s crowd asked if it's harder covering a game if the team loses, which got me thinking. I came to conclusion that I don't think it is. A team could win and there still not be a lot to write about. A team could lose, but maybe something happened in the defeat that lends itself to a good story. Sometimes the story is more than just the final score.
In this instance, being tardy to the games actually worked in my favor. I wasn't bogged down in details. I could focus on the end of the 14's game, where the story was, and fill in the earlier play-by-play details as needed.
I try to identify a central theme, an outstanding player or play in the game. Or maybe it's a quote from a coach. Or words from the spectators, which is what happened in the 14s' extra-inning win.
Someone yelled, "We need a hero" when it was the 14s' turn to hit in the bottom of the eighth inning, with them trailing by one. Two batters later, the 14s players hit an RBI-single to score the winning run. I could've led with the play-by-play action, but it's more interesting to include little details a reader wouldn't see if they weren't at the game. And maybe they were even at the game and didn't pick up on it.
Anything can be inspiration for the angle of a story.
Day 3 stories: