Unfortunately, the results on the field were slower in coming than Todd had expected. Despite all of his hard work, Todd continued to struggle at the plate, failing to get a hit in either of the next two games.
Still, Todd and his Angel teammates began to see glimpses of the “old” Todd, the Todd who lit up the league’s scoreboards during the first half of the season. Todd was starting to make solid contact again, hitting hard ground balls, albeit right at the opposing team’s infielders, and an occasional fly ball to the outfield. More importantly, at least from his coaches’ point of view, Todd was returning to his former enthusiastic self. Even when he wasn’t in the game, he was no longer sulking on the bench. Instead, he stood against the dugout fence and cheered encouragement to his Angel teammates.
Todd’s little successes, combined with two Angel victories, were all the encouragement Todd needed to continue his hard work. Day after day, night after night, rain or shine, whenever there was a free minute, Todd could be found in the backyard slapping balls off the hard rubber hitting tee into the net.
One day, Kelsey, who, up to that point, had been watching Todd work from a distance, joined him in the backyard and asked if she could help. Todd was touched by his little sister’s offer, but gently told her there was nothing she could do – that this was something he was going to have to do on his own. The truth was: Todd didn’t want to do anything to add to Kelsey’s struggles by suggesting a task that she might not be able to do.
Before he could finish his sentence, however, Kelsey bent down, picked a ball out of the bucket, and placed it on the large yellow tee, just as she had seen their dad do a thousand times before. Then, she stood back, and as a smile broke across her face, she motioned for Todd to hit the ball. He returned her smile, set his feet, and smashed the ball into the net. Kelsey burst into spontaneous applause. There were tears in Todd’s eyes.