Being a part of Team 2 is a family event for the Kirks. Tom Kirk is the coach of the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Rookie Softball team, which also includes his daughter, Ellie. Michelle Kirk, Ellie's mother, is the bench manager for the team.
Ellie said that she thinks it is neat having her parents helping her and her friends out with softball.
"It is cool because my parents will be at every game and get to see me run the bases," Ellie said.
For Michelle and Tom, they see Ellie's involvement with softball as a beneficial summer activity. Michelle said fundamentals and sportsmanship are the two most important skills the girls can learn from being involved in youth sports.
"Playing the game gives Ellie exercise and an opportunity to socialize with other girls at her school," said Michelle. "The league also gives the parents from the same school a chance to meet and mingle."
Like most of Parks and Recreation youth baseball and softball leagues, Rookie Softball does not put an emphasis on the score, but instead on learning the fundamentals of the game. The rules allow each team to continue to bat until there are three outs or five runs have scored, whichever comes first.
Rookie Softball is unique because the girls have three pitches from the coach before being allowed to hit from a tee. The girl in the pitcher's position works hard as many of the balls roll right outside the batters box into fair territory.
The recent rain and lightning did not stop first- and second-graders from opening the summer season of Rookie Softball on May 31 at Youth Sports Inc.
Team 2 started the game by loading the bases. Three coaches stood in the field and assisted the girls with base running after each hit. A near out at first would have been the first out of the game, but the ball sailed past first base and into the outfield. Three singles and a double later, Team 2 reached the five-run limit.
Team 1, the Firebirds, answered with five runs of their own in the first inning. In the top of the second, Ellie Kirk hit a pitch toward the shortstop and eluded the first baseman's tag for a single. After rounding the bases, Ellie returned to the dugout and said hitting was the best part of playing softball.
Fielding the ball proved to be a challenge for both teams, but the girls are learning the fundamentals and fun of the game. A hit from the pitcher feels like a home run. The parents in the crowd cheer each time anyone reaches home, no matter the color of their jersey.
In this game, parents were able to do a lot of cheering. Batter after batter reached base and the run limit was reached in all four innings played. After the one-hour time limit, the game ended in a 20-all tie.
Firebirds coach Kelly Sullivan said the girls have fun and enjoy playing the game.
"They can tell their friends the next day about the out they had or they got a hit," Sullivan said.
After the game Coach Sullivan told the girls that everyone played awesome, but not to forget about practice Monday. The girls look forward to practice and the next time they can run the bases. They're not worried about a first-place finish. Ellie said she's looking forward to an end of the year party.
The girls of Team 2 did not have a name for the team before the game, but Ellie and her teammates thought Lightning was good considering the weather. Ellie said they would have to check with her dad because the coach must approve that decision.