But I do know that for a lot of folks here in east Tennessee, it has also involved pulling for the lady Volunteers softball team as they have battled the Florida Gators in the NCAA Gainesville Super-Regional trying to advance to the Women’s College World Series.
Our daughter brought her two little boys over and we all watched the game together on Saturday, as the Lady Vols evened the best of three series at a game apiece. Alas, however, it was not meant to be, as the Lady Vols then went down in defeat in the rubber game of the match on Sunday afternoon. But we enjoyed the games nonetheless.
As we watched, we also reminisced together, for my daughter played a lot of fast-pitch softball down through the years. For years, my wife and I literally hauled her to tournaments all over the southeast. Later on, she was privileged to be a part of a high school state championship team as well.
I learned a lot about softball watching all those games down through the years. For instance, rarely does one team actually blow another team out. More often, the games are quite close, and come down to being won by just one or two runs.
What is more, very often in close games, a team will work together to “manufacture” a run.
This is how it worked when my daughter played. She was not a power hitter; but she could absolutely scoot around the bases. For this reason, she was often the lead-off batter.
When she came to the plate, her job was to get on base most any way she could, she was to coax a walk, to lay down a bunt, even to get on by an error. Most any way she could, her job was to get on base.
Then, once on first base, her next job was to steal second base. Over the years, she got good at that. She would worry the opposing pitcher and/or catcher mercilessly, feigning a steal, until she finally caught one or both of them off guard. At that moment, off she would go, speeding toward second base, and usually managing to slide in just ahead of the attempted tag after the throw down from the catcher.
Now, if all of this happened as planned, the most important step in the sequence came up. The job of the number two hitter was then to lay down a sacrifice bunt in order to get my daughter on over to third base. Once this was accomplished, with only one out and the power hitters due up, most any ball hit out of the infield, either on the ground or in the air, would easily allow the run to score from third base!
Looking back, while I was always happy whenever we got a run this way, I have to admit that I often felt sorry for the number two hitter. You see, unlike the base runner, or the power hitter, she never got the glory!
What is more, because of her role, her own personal offensive statistics suffered terribly. Her personal batting average, her personal on-base percentage, her personal “RBI” (or “runs batted in”) totals, her personal runs scored totals, and even her own chance to steal bases herself – all these statistics suffered in comparison to those of her team members!
Yet, without her willingness to sacrifice, the “manufactured” run would not have been scored. As a result, quite often, the game itself would not have been won!
And there you have it! Sacrifice is a powerful thing. Nonetheless, it is always costly to the individual undertaking it! However, without sacrifice, the cause is not advanced, the victory is not won!
This Memorial Day weekend, remember all those who have willingly sacrificed to give us what all we now have. Remember the men and women of our nation’s armed forces who willingly laid down their lives for our political freedoms. Statistics tell us that over the centuries, some 1.2 million individuals have died in service of our country, helping to guarantee the rights we enjoy each and every day.
Beyond this, as you have opportunity, seek out and thank any veterans and service members you know for their willingness stand on the line and, if need be, go into harm’s way, on our behalf!
Above all, remember the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who willingly gave His own life that we may have spiritual life –and have it to the full! Be sure to express your gratitude to Him as well. And take every opportunity to share the good news made possible by His sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection!