By Hailey Abdilla 

Before I started high school, I had never faced a pitcher who could throw a curveball. I’ve played softball since I was five and I prided myself on my miniscule amount of strikeouts. Until I got to high school. Being the only freshman to make the varsity squad, my confidence was at an all-time high, until I amassed more strikeouts in my first couple games than I had in my entire career. The dreaded curveball got me every time. 

In some ways, softball is a lot like high school. There’s highs and lows, bad umpires and unkept fields, but I think the biggest similarity is the curveball. Sophomore year our class was thrown a pretty nasty curve. With little warning, school was shut down, and what we thought would be a two-week “coronacation” turned into a nearly 2 year solitary sentence. Cut off from the Westmont community and dealing with the abrupt end to my softball season, I found myself struggling to care about school. Thank goodness for the pass/fail grades because sophomore year me had accepted that I had swung for the fences and completely whiffed on this curveball, (shoutout Mr. Batz for not failing me after I slept through my alarm and missed the chemistry final). Thankfully for me, it was only my sophomore year, I still had a couple at bats left in the game. As sophomore year came to a close and the most monotonous summer of my life began, I realized that I had let the curve get the best of me and I decided that from here on out, all I had to do was foul it off, live to see another pitch.

Junior year was another tough pitch as structured online classes began and I remained in my bed for 20 hours a day. This time though, I didn’t try to crush the curve, I focused on finishing my work when assigned and taking advantage of Wednesdays off to safely spend time with my friends. I watched with elation as my peers in ASB created lip sync dance videos to share with the school and I marveled at the resilience of my teachers and classmates to adjust their educational needs to an online learning environment. I looked forward to Chris Haskett’s breakout rooms and gave my family a good laugh while completing Anthony Santos’ PE workouts in my living room. I even got to play my sports again, reuniting with my teammates to grind out two sports in one season. Junior prom came and went, and I felt a newfound appreciation for the little things. As the school year came to a close, I reflected on the quality at bat I had been having. Between my sports and straight A’s, maybe the curveball wasn’t so bad? Then came softball playoffs. Battling in our first two games, we made it all the way to CCS finals. Driving up to Watsonville, I envisioned the home run my team was about to crush, the first Westmont softball team to ever win CCS after one heck of a curveball. But sometimes, you just fall short. The upside; we hadn’t struck out, this time I had learned that we simply fouled off the pitch, I still had one more at bat, and I was more prepared than ever to handle the curve. 

I went into my senior year ready for anything. I stopped holding myself back in ways that I had in previous years. Participating in powerpuff and rally games, I made connections with my peers in ways that I had been deprived of years prior. I soaked in every hallway conversation and study hall gossip session and rejoiced in every moment, even finding joy in difficult tests and essay days. Don’t get me wrong, my last at bat still had plenty of curve balls. I lost close friends and lost a LOT of soccer games, even dealing with the frenzy that is college applications and figuring out a plan B after I didn’t get into any of my dream schools. But if there’s anything my four years of high school has taught me, it’s how to foul off the curveball. As graduation approaches quicker than I would like, there is no doubt in my mind that the class of 2022 will do great things. The cool thing about softball is that if pitchers get tired, and you foul off enough curveballs, they just might hang one right down the middle for you. As I prepare to crush my homerun and graduate high school with my best friends, I will forever remain grateful for the lessons that my four years of high school has taught me. I no longer dread whatever curveballs life has planned for me in the future (hopefully another CCS loss isn’t in the cards for me). But after my four at bats, I’ve got a lot of practice fouling off the curveball, and just living to see another pitch.