Mikey Johnson winced.
“Mikey, you’re up! Get out there and get us a run,” Coach Mooney barked.
At the end of the bench, a group of boys snickered. “Yeah, like that’ll ever happen. Mikey has better chances of winning the lottery.”
Mikey trudged from the dugout, squinting at the sun’s menacing glare. Even it didn’t think Mikey stood a chance of making contact with the ball. It was the longest running joke on his team. Mikey’s bat had never hit a ball. Not once. There were a few times it came close, but “close” was three inches, which was equivalent to 100 miles in baseball.
“Good luck, kid,” the umpire muttered as Mikey stood at the plate and positioned himself for the first swing.
The pitcher sneered. All he needed was one more out and his team won the game. With Mikey at the plate, he had the game in the bag. It didn’t matter what he threw at the worst player in baseball history.
His first pitch was a grounder.
Mikey missed it anyway.
“Come on, boy! Focus!” his coach yelled from the dugout.
Mikey tightened his grip around the bat and bent his arms and knees like his dad had showed him to do.
The pitcher rolled his arm like a Ferris wheel. A second ball soared in a perfectly straight line toward Mikey’s bat. Excited, Mikey closed his eyes and swung the bat, praying for contact. He heard the ball thump into the ump’s mitt.
“Strike two!” the ump shouted.
Mikey hung his head. It was pointless for him to try. He couldn’t hit a baseball to save his life.
“Loosen up, kid,” the ump said. “You’re too tense. Loosen up and keep your eye on the ball. I used to sing a song in my head. That always got me in the zone.”
Mikey thought about the ump’s advice.
“What song?” he asked.
The ump smiled. “Well, it’s kind of embarrassing, but I used to hear Madonna’s ‘Celebrate.’ Worked every time though.”
Mikey grinned and turned to the pitcher. As he positioned his bat, the first chorus of Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ trickled into his head. He began to sing along to the lyrics, dipping into the groove, and when the third and final ball hurled toward him, he swung to the beat and CRACK! For the first time in his life, Mikey felt the impact of his bat smashing against a baseball. Mesmerized, he watched it sail through the air toward the field and plummet into the soft palm of a catcher’s mitt.
“You’re out!” the ump yelled. “Visitors win the game, 7 to 6.”
Mikey didn’t care. All that mattered was he’d hit the ball.