Michelle Moultrie

Michelle Moultrie

2018 NJCAA National Finals - Laker Softball

2018 NJCAA National Finals - Laker Softball

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She's pitching softballs over 100 MPH, and she's a preteen

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Curious Case of Sallie Finch

When a woman can pitch in the upper 70s in fast pitch softball, that's pretty impressive. Men have been clocked in the 80s. But what about a preteen who can bring it at 103 MPH!

If you haven't heard of Sallie Finch, you will soon, as all the biggest sports news organizations are sending their top reporters to Mortadella, a small MidWestern town somewhat known for its high output of bologna from a factory on the outskirts of town.

Also flocking to its local softball diamond are a bevy of professional and major university softball scouts.

Said one scout from a well-known university but who wished to remain anonymous: "We're ready to sign her immediately, us, and every other big school in the country, so the goal right now is to be the first to reach Mortadella, by the first of April if at all possible. We've all bought in, and when you learn more about this unbelievable youngster, you will, too!"

The nation's number one sports reporter, Rusty Junist, got an early whiff of the Mortadella story, raced in from the Dakota's with renowned sports photographer, K. Novatech in tow, and claims to be the first one to talk to Sallie.

"I thought we'd never make it to Mortadella," said Junist, "the smell of the biggest sports story this side of the new millennium stronger then the odor of ordure sifting out of the fields, leading us farther. Heck, we broke down in Consway, and had to beg a ride off this old coot driving a beater of a stepvan with a cracked windshield. The weirdest thing, he had a Kuerig in the back. The drive wasn't too bad till he smoked a belt at the top of a hill and lost the brakes and steering. The land flattened out, however, and we limped past the bologna factory and into Mortadella with me hanging by one arm out the side door to guide him through the smoke belching out from the hood, the side mirrors providing little shielding and confusing matters all the more when I mistook the backward view for forward progress."

Junist and Novatech made it to the Finch homestead, and got the scoop, although Novatech forgot film for his digital camera. Sallie had no qualms about telling it like it is at home and around Mortadella.

"Phone's been a-ringin off the hook," said Sallie, "and Momma keeps on yelling that she, meaning me, ain't intrested in packin off to some fer away, high falutin school after six short years of high school just to toss a yellow ball round. Momma says I can throw a softball a hunert mile an hour ritchere in Mortadella fer the local folk just as well as in front of a thousand-head-herd of, well, I cain repeat what Momma calls em, but we'll just say, city folk. That's bad enough.

"Pa says there's one of those JUCOs a half-tank worth away in the pickup, and they got softball, and even their own field like it was as important as the north forty, and that's good enough and'll keep me closer to home. But since all the phone ringin started he's been a hoistin that jug over yonder, the one with the X's on it. I don't know what's in it but taint long n he's weavin through the yard like he's intendin to win a mean game of tag. And suddenly he veers off to the outhouse n after three tries at tuggin open the door he stumbles inside and gets to wretchin like my dog, Girl, after she kilt n et a possum what wasn't really dead till three bites in. I named her Girl cuz that's what she is. Pa calls her something else but says it ain't cussin cuz that's whatcha call a girl dog. Then comes a bang like Pa punched the outhouse wall, the door swings near off the hinges, and he about plants his face in the weeds steppin out like he fergot after all these years it's quite a step down. I even axed him what was all the racket n he says he was just seein how fer he could throw a dirt clod he fount inside. I hear tell Pa can throw even faster than me, faster than any pitcher in the big leagues, only windmillin on top instead of under like me. Never knew a body to see it though, just heard tell."

Junist inquired further about what her intentions were as far as fast pitch.

"Momma says if I'm gonna pitch in front of a crowd of, you know, city folk, it may as well be fer our fundrasin for the little ones what don't have enough to eat. We call it the Queen and her Court, and it's just me pitchin to Bertha Buttbottom. She's our backcatcher, and Sissy Snotslicker at short, and Hagatha Westwitch at first. Hagatha's the pretty one, except her nose is kinda crooked, cuzza some freak broom accident on the Westwitch farm.

"But the good-cause money raisin, that'll tickle yer funny bones, on accounta how I get to keep underwhirlin em faster n faster, first nice n slow, part-speed, soes the folks payin a buck a swing can maybe foul one off ever so often. But then the men step up, puffin out their chest n saying 'Awww, I can hit Little Miss Finch with one hand tied ahind my back.' That's when I peek over and check with Pa, and he lowers just one eyebrow n nods his head forward just a bit, and gives me a quick wink. That's my cue to step forward out of the circle and hold the yellow ball up at em like I'm apointin and call out, 'Now on, it's a sawbuck or shut up!

"Pastor Uplander tole me it's alright a-talkin thataway to menfolk only cuz we're encouraging them to go pockets-deep for the good cause of feedin the little ones. Then I wink back at Pa and get to burnin em in, and oooooh, how the menfolk get to whiffin n cussin, cussin n whiffin, and then their womenfolk start a cacklin and hootin in the stands, and soon enough ever man is pryin white knuckles off the bat handle and jammin it in their britches pocket, clawin round like they're diggin to China or gotta a itch like they spent last night with Martha Mae Handlemeyer, and out comes another sawbuck, and another, till all the men's pockets are bunny ears, the lot of em lookin like a bunch of lost rabbits on Easter Sunday. But the last man to pay n whiff is special, cuz he is chosen by all the other men fer how respectful he is to the little ones, and that's when I pitch lefty, on accounta I'm righty, and lefty I throw like a girl. It's like I'm trying to toss mule muffins over the St. Louis Arch. Anyways, the man, he swings n misses on purpose, three times, cuz it's tradition, and then we meet halfway tween the circle and home plate, and he hands me the bat, barrel first, and kneels down, bows his head, cuz men round these parts, they respect the womenfolk, and I reach out with the bat and lightly touch each shoulder, cuz round these parts, just like our Mommas, the menfolk are our heroes, too."

Junist questioned Sallie about whether her family would engage reporters and scouts the next day, since it was Easter Sunday.

"No way. Me and all the softball girls'll be busy hidin Easter eggs for the little ones before church in the mornin and havin the joy of watchin em find em after.

"No, if they wanna ax questions or make what Momma calls pie-in-the-sky promises about uppity edumacation they can just wait'll I'm grown n ready. They can talk to my brother though, Sidd Jr., cuz if you think I can throw fast, whewwwie, can he ever. Sidd can skip a stone clear across Crock Creek, drop a crow off the top branches of the Bradford Pear trees out back. And real pitching? I cain hittem, even when he's a-pitching from second base. He throws BBs, I tell ya. And that's no baloney out of the factory over yonder."

Sallie Finch abruptly ended the impromptu interview with Junist, dashing up the front porch steps that bowed with every footfall, a screen door screeching as it swung open, clapping shut behind her as she disappeared inside, calling back, "Fergot to put candy in the eggs fer the hunt, tomorrow." 

Junist was able to find out that even though the world was coming relentlessly for the preteen who could pitch 100 MPH-plus, that Sallie and her family had enough perspective to most likely resist any and all pressure from the "city folk." His write-up would entice many eyes now, but have its credibility questioned as the Finch's would likely turn down inquiry and offer alike.

Full featured online and print articles will be planned, however, by everyone but the Finch's, and there's even talk that a major movie studio, yet to be identified, has something in the works, and would love to start talks with Sallie about starring in a major motion picture for which they are currently furiously writing the script, titled: A League of My Own.

Word has it there's an outside chance Sallie and Momma (Pa's busy hoisting and scrounging for more dirt clods) may be ready to talk, and if so, will go live later today. You can watch the full interview in a special April Fool's Day edition on BSPN.

Lakerball hopes everyone has enjoyed this transition from objective news post to wanna-be Plimpton to a Vonnegut-esque excursion on this April Fool's Day and wishes all who celebrate Easter, a happy one.

And remember, somewhere out there is a Sallie Finch, waiting to be discovered, or not, possibly by April 1, 2019.

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