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Prep Baseball Gamer

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by e_bowker, May 3, 2011.

  1. e_bowker

    e_bowker Member

    Wrote this last week and thought it turned out pretty well. Got a little flowery, thought, so I figured I'd give the SJ illuminati a shot at it and see what you guys say. Does this approach hold up, or does it cross the line into cheesy?

    MADISON -- It was, quite simply, an epic.
    It was the type of game where wills are tested, unforgettable memories made and dreams shattered. Where Herculean efforts are forgotten in the blink of an eye, because of deeds decided by a matter of inches. Where someone rises and shouts for joy, and someone else stares blankly into space and wonders how the world can be so cruel.
    Where a player like Bobby Epps, down to his last strike and millimeters away from taking it, can reach out and hit a ball that lands an inch inside the right field line, bringing his South Panola teammates storming out of the dugout in celebration and their opponents from Vicksburg crumbling to the ground in despair and disgust.
    Epps’ single in the bottom of the seventh inning finished off a comeback for the ages Monday night, and wrote a worthy final chapter to an incredible game. It was the last piece of a six-run rally by South Panola in the final inning that sent it home with a 14-13 victory in the decisive Game 3 of its first-round Class 6A playoff series with Vicksburg.
    “Hats off to our guys for extending the season and giving ourselves a chance. But these kinds of losses will haunt you the rest of your life,” Vicksburg coach Cody Zumbro said.

    South Panola advanced to the second round to face Horn Lake beginning Friday, while Vicksburg began a long offseason of wondering how this series got away.
    The Gators won Game 2 on Monday, 7-0, then jumped out to an 8-0 lead after 2 ½ innings of Game 3. South Panola chipped away at that deficit and tied the game in the fifth inning, but Vicksburg once again went ahead on a three-run homer by Lamar Anthony in the sixth.
    The lead was extended to 13-8 entering the bottom of the seventh, before South Panola used four walks, two wild pitches and a dropped third strike that would’ve ended the game to set the stage for Epps’ winning hit.
    “We had a lot of chances to win the game. We didn’t do it,” Anthony said.
    Anthony went 3-for-3 with seven RBIs in Game 3. In addition to his three-run homer in the sixth, he hit a grand slam in the third inning that put Vicksburg ahead 8-0. His fine performance wasn’t the only one lost by the horrific ending the Gators endured.
    Clyde Kendrick was the starting pitcher for Game 2 -- the first half of Monday’s doubleheader that lasted 5 ½ hours -- and almost single-handedly carried Vicksburg into the deciding game. The junior left-hander struck out 12 batters, allowed only one hit on a tough infield single, and hit a three-run homer to ice the victory.
    After three other pitchers struggled to keep South Panola in check in Game 3, Kendrick returned to the mound to again be the Gators’ savior. He got three groundouts to retire the side in order in the sixth inning and coaxed a weak pop-up from pinch-hitter Blake Darby to start the seventh.
    “I’m not trying to hurt anybody, but I’ve got a whole team telling me give Clyde the ball. He’s conditioned to where I think he could throw a million and not get hurt,” Zumbro said. “It’s the first time all year I’ve had somebody come to me and tell me they want the ball, so it’s hard to deny that. Especially when the team believes in him.”
    Then, perhaps with the strain of nearly 150 pitches beginning to crack his armor, Kendrick ran into trouble. He walked two straight batters and gave up a hit to Chris Townsend to load the bases. He recovered to strike out Mitchel Babb for out No. 2, and got Lee Self to chase strike three.
    The pitch was in the dirt, though, and skipped past catcher Taylor Brocato. Brocato gathered the ball and desperately fired it to the plate, but Kendrick bobbled it as J.W. Willis slid into home.
    Two more bases-loaded walks and a run-scoring wild pitch followed, hacking the once-insurmountable 13-8 advantage to a single run.
    Kendrick seemed to recover, getting a couple of quick strikes on Epps. Two more fastballs, though, barely missed their mark. On the next one, Epps threw his bat toward the outside corner of the plate and connected. The ball floated toward an empty patch of grass along the right field line, the Gators’ only hope that it would drop foul.
    “Me catching for the umpire, I kind of know where the strike zone is. I was just waiting for my pitch and waiting on one I can drive and possibly score some runs. I was just looking for a hit,” said Epps, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. “As soon as I hit it I was praying for it to stay fair.”

    A gusting south wind made certain the ball would land in fair territory, less than an inch inside the line. Townsend scored easily from third. Self hustled home from second. The Tigers celebrated. The Gators wept. In an instant, everything changed for both sides as one lived to fight another day and the other’s season perished.
    “It’s been that way all year. We just can’t finish a game,” Zumbro said. “We’ve done everything we could to put them in a position to win, but it comes to a point where you’ve just got to get it done. Either you can or you can’t, and we couldn’t tonight.”
  2. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    Only my opinion, but its only cheesy if you go to the well with this type of thing too often. If you hold these types of descriptions to the games that truly deserve them, they can serve a purpose.

    The lead few graphs are a little long. You want your nut graph a little higher....you want to mention the teams involved a little higher. Maybe cut 2-3 sentences of the excess praise in the first 2 graphs to get that info up higher.
  3. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    I don't endorse the AP-style summary lead mentality that says "get the score in the first graf" by any means. But I do think leads that try to paint too much drama into a situation are questionable. I'm not saying be boring. I'm definitely supporting you to be descriptive. But I agree with JimmyHoward, you take too long getting to the point. You're 100 words in before you tell me what teams are playing. Find a way to slide the teams and the result in somewhere earlier than that.

    Definitely agreed you can't write like this on a regular basis. I know of a guy (not at my paper) who does that, and after a while it got laughable. He writes every gamer at a fever pitch, like he was doing the Super Bowl, and he must fancy himself some sort of amateur philosopher because every lead seems to search for the deep meaning in the drama of sport. Try not to reach for that sort of thing on your own. Write with your senses: If you do a dramatic lead, do it with your observations -- something that you saw, actions, reactions, little moments you noticed -- that painted the moment as dramatic.

    Tighten up your lead and your wording overall. This one is more than 900 words. At my place, that would put it in the 26-30-inch range. You could probably get the same story across in 8 or 10 inches less than that. You write well, but do think about writing tighter. With shrinking newsholes, that'll be a useful skill.
  4. e_bowker

    e_bowker Member

    Trust me, this type of writing is definitely the exception and not the rule on my gamers. Most times we're in the normal 10-20 inch range. I wouldn't turn in something like this if the game had been in the middle of the season. But, given that it was a season-ender and the way it finished it felt like it warranted something more than the normal treatment.
  5. spud

    spud Member

    More than the cheese factor, which in my opinion is over the top, the first couple grafs are beyond generic. They can be applied to anything. Lift it from that game and put it onto Awesome Game X in any sport and it can technically still apply. I dunno, maybe it's just my disposition, but I was kind of rolling my eyes when you hit that "wills are tested" note and I checked out when you got to Herculean. Maybe some people like that stuff, and I'm certainly not against doing something different, but I'd apply it more directly to the game instead of taking a roundabout to get to somewhere you can just as easily get on the interstate.

    And this was a bi-district game? I mean, yeah. I though you oversold it.
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