SPRINGFIELD — A balloon of anticipation was popped by lightning. The jagged flashes forced the postponement of the South Effingham-Effingham County softball game that was slated Aug. 14.
Before the decision was made, the disappointed teams found ways to pass the time at Rebel Field. The host squad stayed in the familiar confines of its lockerroom while the visitor resided in the baseball clubhouse nearby.
“They were pretty pumped in our lockerrom — from what we could hear,” Effingham County head coach Jane Trzaska said.
The steady beat of energetic music richeted off the walls. Lots of singing — some of it actually in tune — could be heard.
“We have a big old radio system in there,” senior third baseman Francie Gaskin said. “We like to turn that on and get hyped up. We have dance-offs and just try to get the girls excited for the game and not tensed up in any kind of way.”
Senior shortstop Sydney Newberry took the postponement in stride. The game was rescheduled for two days later.
“We just looked at it as another day to practice,” she said. “We tried to keep everybody up because we kind of assumed the game was going to be canceled because of the (weather) radar. There was a lot of music — really loud — to keep everybody ready to play (in case we got the chance).”
The matchup with the Lady Mustangs wasn’t the only one on some of the Lady Rebels’ minds.
“We have a tendency to get real tense before games so we played hacky sack,” Newberry said. “The less we think about having to do stuff, the better it seems to go. We try to relax one another just to get ready.
“We talk about everything except softball.”
Gaskin admitted to being Effingham County’s most gregarious player. She engaged in stimulating conversations during the wait but also joined her fellow time killers in other activities.
“Sometimes we would turn the lights off and just have a flashlight party happening,” she said. “It’s just whatever we were feeling. We just wanted it to be fun and relaxed.”
South Effingham tried to employ similar pregame strategies but got sidetracked briefly.
“It was totally comical,” Lady Mustangs left fielder Natalie Easterling at the start of her story.
Easterling said one of her teammates stubbed her toe on a bucket inside the Effingham County baseball fieldhouse and the infected nail fell off.
“Everybody started screaming,” Easterling said. “We were in the middle of doing our hair. Even the coaches were screaming and laughing because it was hilarious.
“(The player) couldn’t feel anything and we didn’t have anything to get the bacteria out so they were squirting hand sanitizer on her toe.”
The wayward toenail was never found.
Easterling said, “One of the coaches found a Frito in her chair and she thought it was the toenail. She started screaming and we started laughing at her because it was a Frito. It was very funny.”