F IRST IT WAS S HARI. Now it was Karen.
Who was going to be next?
Something very strange had happened to those girls, and Penny Farrell, captain of the Hawks softball team, wondered if anybody
else was aware of it.
Shari Chung, the plump, dark-eyed catcher for the Hawks, had
hit a ball into deep left field before, yet moments ago she had knocked it some twenty feet over the fence. It was her third
consecutive hit, including the two from the previous game against the Gray Wings.
Now, with the score 4 to 3 in the Owls’favor, and the Hawks batting in the top of the second inning, Karen Keech had just lambasted a pitch out between left field
and left center field for a stand-up double, scoring Gloria Johnson, the team’s right center fielder. The hit was Karen’s
second one in the game — her first was a single — and the crowd was cheering her like crazy.
But what was so strange about it, besides the girls’ getting the hits, was their
. Shari had not seemed surprised or impressed at all by her long home run, and neither had Karen by her hits. They acted as
if getting such hits was routine, no big deal.
There was something else, too. Something that Penny couldn’t quite put her finger on.
Pausing in the on-deck circle before going to the plate to bat, Penny turned and looked at the slender girl with the round
face and large black eyes standing behind her. Maybe she would know.
“Kim Soo, what’s with Karen, anyway? Is she mad at somebody?”
Kim Soo Hong, her bright yellow uniform about a size too large for her, squintedat Penny from under the wide brim of her cap and shrugged.
“I don’t think so,” she said. “Why?”
Penny looked across the infield at the tall, statuesque Karen standing with one foot on the second-base sack, the other on
the reddish ground, and shrugged, too. “I’m not sure. But there’s something . . .”
“Get up there, Penny!” Coach Mike Parker’s voice floated to her from the third-base coaching box. “Bring her in!”
Penny glanced at him, caught his wide smile, and hurried toward the plate. In her haste she stubbed her toe and almost went
sprawling on her face, but she quickly regained her balance and went on to the plate, her cheeks turning a brick red. Surely
every soul in that crowd of some three hundred must have seen her stumble. Knowing the crowd was watching her made her wish
she were taller for her twelve years and had wavy hair instead of that dark, straight mop that hung down the sides of her
oval face. But she knew she had lovely hazel eyes and long lashes. You can’t have everything, she told herself.
Alice Higgins, the Owls’ left-handedpitcher, sailed one in underhand that missed the outside of the plate by inches.
“Ball!” boomed the umpire, standing tall behind the catcher with his cap reversed and his mask on.
Penny glanced across the diamond at Karen on second base, thinking that if Karen could do it, so could she. If her memory
served her right, Karen’s two hits were the first she had gotten since she had rapped out two singles in their game against
the Comets last Friday.
The pitch came in again.. Penny swung and drove a hot grounder down to short. The Owls shortstop caught it and snapped it
to third to try to get Karen, who was running there as fast as she could. But the throw was wild, and Karen scored. Penny
went on to second base.
Loud applause rose and echoed from the Hawks’ rooters sitting in the small grandstand behind the backstop screen and the bleachers
behind third base. Penny smiled weakly and doffed her cap. After all, the hit — even though the Owls shortstop had erred on
it — had knocked in a run, making the score 5 to 3 in the Hawks’ favor.
“Hit it out, Kim Soo!” Penny yelled at the girl following her at bat. “Blast it!”
Kim Soo didn’t waste any time. She cracked a single through short and Penny scooted to third, holding up there as she saw