Imagine the worst female softball team you ever saw, triple it, and you've got Darci Bloom's baseball team. Darci's got a lot to handle this season. She's ended up in a team full of nonathletic misfits. She's got a huge crush on the girl making a documentary about the team. She's got a difficult dad. Now a crazy Russian couple shows their interest in coaching her team. Will this bunch of weirdos going to blast into her life and change it forever? Will they fall apart or can they win the unexpected?View More
Felik and Grigor trotted across the field towards us. Felik shook hands with Charlotte."What a wonderful work, girl," he said. "I'm a bit emotional as you can imagine. Me, Grigor and the guys at the Matryoshka watched your videotape six, maybe seven times. Stayed up at night."Then Felik turned to me and stepped over to shake my hand."Thank you, Darci," he murmured and looked at us one by one. He seemed too choked up. He shook his head. "You're all here..." he gasped. Then he turned to Grigor. "Can you believe this?"Grigor smiled and put his arm around his shoulders. His mirror glasses had fogged up. Olive handed Felik a tissue."Boy, this team should've been sponsored by Kleenex,
Charlotte and I went to her house. I called Mom that I would be late. We got out all the video clips of the Rejects' games, training, interviews.We had sat in front of her desktop computer all afternoon and half the evening to make a season highlights footage of the team. Charlotte knew her way around those editorial programs, and a girl who knows this kind of technology to me is a goddess.And of course, I knew what was going on during each game, because I watched everyone all the times, so between us, we could jump around the video and edit a tape really fast.And why did we do that?Well, we figured, okay, game's over. But we should remember the excellent bits and not just the lousy part at the end. If we don't have a team for the
The rain bucketed down nonstop for the next two days straight. I walked past the Matryoshka, but I didn't run into anyone from the team or any of our supporters. The footpath was damp, the chairs were tipped up against the tables and there were hardly any customers inside.I was going to the Thursday training as usual. Surely things would turn around and go back to the way they were. I imagined Felik and Grigor cruising in their Bentley with their cool shades. Felik would crack a few jokes and Grigor would make some great speech and the Rejects would be high spirited again.When I arrived at the diamond field, the place was deserted. The surface of the park was so soggy all over and in the middle, there was a shallow lake.I was about to give up and go home when I spotted Margaret. I d
I limped off the field, ready to go home. Mom came to give me a big hug. I winced. After the game, I felt as if every bone in my body had been jarred. There were going to be bruises for sure."Oh honey, I don't even know what to say!" Mom said with teary eyes. "The whole time I can't believe that was my daughter!"Her voice quivered and tight. She was about to cry."It's just a stroke of luck, mom," I said. "We were a mess back there and you saw it.""Oh Darci," she sighed.Dad came straight up to me then. His mouth was moving but I couldn't connect with the words he was saying. He was mumbling, almost embarrassed. Then he reached out to put his hand on my shoulder. Dad kept talking.
It was windy on the last game before the Final. Wind so vicious, it ripped straight through clothes and made your skin sting with cold. Everyone walked with their heads tucked in, hearing nothing but the rush of air in their ears. We were a visiting team. The Tiger Cubs's field was on top of a hill with no trees at all to cut the blast of the wind.A couple of men were struggling to put up the banners. The banners were tangled, blowing back into the men's faces.Other Red Thorns fans were also turning up for the game.Susan got out of her car, being roused by her dad. I couldn't hear what they were on about but the angry booming voice of her dad was loud from here. At the other end of the car park, Harper was scrambling to find her gloves and helmet on the car floor. She was crying and
"The Under 18 Baseball Team known as the Red Thorns has amazed the baseball world by winning a place in the little league world semi-final," said Charlotte directly to the camera like a sports reporter.We were no longer called the Rejects. Felik and Grigor had come up with a name for our team, which was the Red Thorns. We can't keep calling ourselves modest name anymore, Felik had said. So the Red Thorns it is.Charlotte stepped sideways to reveal a special backdrop, which looked like the set of a TV sports show with banners, jackets and bats stuck on the wall. In front of that were two chairs where Felik and Grigor sat.Charlotte welcomed them very smoothly like a real TV host."Well, thank you, Charlotte," answered Felik. "Oh, shou
On Sunday afternoons, Grigor, Felik, Mitko, Zoya, and the bakery owner Polina would gather in the room with other patrons above Matryoshka. In the midst of steam of coffee, they huddled in front of a huge flat-screen TV to watch Charlotte's videos of the previous games.Once the coaches found out about Olive's baseball brain, she became the key part of 'the Tactical Team'. They would analyze the game, debate about the latest strategies used by professional leagues, and plan next week's training schedule.I tagged along with Olive, not because I wanted to discuss the tactics, but because Charlotte was also there in those Sunday sessions. But I didn't understand half of what they were talking about, and my eyes would wander away from the screen to the blonde girl. At one point, she turned as if she could feel my stare and caught me lookin
With my hands jammed in the pockets of my jacket, I walked down our street and across the footbridge. If I stayed out of the house for a while, things would settle down. Dad would shut himself in the study and work. Mom would put music on really loud and scrub out the sink. By dinnertime, all of us would be quiet and polite and act like a family again.I didn't have anywhere in particular to go but as I strolled some more, I found myself at the front entrance of the Matryoshka. It was closed until dinner time. But in the alley that ran down the back of the cafés, the door into the kitchen was open.I peered in to see Mitko working on the stove. Felik was chopping stuff on the long benches with the woman who gave me some bread. Their hands flew over piles of veggies in machine-gun-fast movements.
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