Chloe hit her first grand slam just a couple weeks ago, securing a sizable Kickapoo victory.
“That was very exciting,” she said.
For some reason, however, she didn’t keep the ball. I have hit a couple of inside-the-park-home runs in my life, two on one field in South Carolina that didn’t have a fence. But I’ve never hit one over the fence. If I ever hit an over-the-fence home run, I will be keeping that ball forever.
Chloe is the shortstop on the Kickapoo fast-pitch softball team. She also is a forward on the basketball team. And she runs sprints and throws the shot put on the track team. Cross training at its best.
It has been well documented that weather in Springfield is rather ridiculous. This morning, the wind chill was in the 20s. Thankfully, it warmed up somewhat by mid-afternoon, but a gusty north wind created a less-than-ideal catch-playing environment. We met at Kickpoo and played catch on the warm-up soccer adjacent to the softball field that wasn’t there when I was in school. We started with a softball, then switched to a baseball and I didn’t stop moving, doing everything possible to get the heart pumping hard and keep blood flowing to the fingertips. As is to be expected from a shortstop, Chloe has a cannon for an arm.
Chloe is a Pirates fan and comes by it naturally. Her dad, Orlando Merced, started his MLB career in Pittsburgh.
“When I’m in the field, he encourages me to trust my hands, not to think about what I’m doing.”
As soon as she said it, I remembered a quote from Carl Yastrzemski. “I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don’t think about it is when I’m playing it.”
Her great-grandfather is Bill Virdon (Day #61) who won the World Series with the Pirates in 1960 and managed them for a couple of seasons.
“He just tells me to stay humble.”
Chloe’s favorite players include Andrew McCutcheon and Josh Harrison and she’d love to play catch with Jose Altuvé. Her favorite movie is Pitch Perfect, which means she’d fit in well with Royals Twitter, and she dreams of playing softball collegiately.
Her sophomore softball season ended last Thursday with a tough loss to Ozark in districts. It is never easy to lose the last game of the season. Thankfully, in a couple weeks, she’ll play with the Missouri Chiefs at the Top Gun Tournament in KC, and then basketball season begins.
Chloe, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll trade you an autographed, over-the-fence home run ball from KC for a copy of Dreamfield, which shares some “fictional” stories from my days at KHS.
Only 8 days until World Series Watch Party at CY Sports for Pitch In For Baseball!