Practice makes perfect.
That’s great in theory, but in reality, perfection is a mythical goal, like a rainbow’s pot of gold or a cloud’s silver lining.
Practice — at best — makes pretty good.
Conococheague’s 11-12 All-Stars can attest to the virtues of practice. They admit they had a lot of it after winning the District 1 title to qualify for last week’s state tournament.
They were tired of trying to be perfect. It was boring. They wanted to play real baseball again.
When it came down to it, practice made Conococheague somewhere between pretty good and perfect since it won that state title on Friday.
Conococheague wasn’t perfect, since it needed to win five straight games after losing its opener. Those practices just allowed Conococheague to play at a level of proficiency, skill and excellence to meet the challenge of facing elimination every time it took the field.
That’s the flaw of practicing for perfection. Those pre-tournament sessions got Conococheague ready for the physical and instinctual parts of the game, but the emotional part was still in question.
It took some adversity to make Conococheague “perfect” by state standards.
That part came last Tuesday when Conococheague trailed South Maryland 9-5 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. Even with all the practice, it was tough to see the pot of gold or the silver lining. Everyone with hope still had doubts.
Somehow, the group of 11- and 12-year-olds manned up.
Conococheague’s first seven batters reached base to pull off a five-run rally for a miraculous 10-9 victory, capped by Justin Beckley’s game-winning double.
Conococheague couldn’t have prepared for such a comeback ... or its aftermath.
It was bedlam inside the dugout. There was screaming and bear hugs, laced with tears of absolute joy as 11 players and three coaches celebrated success in a pressurized feat they could have never practiced. That, in itself, was amazing, especially when trying to remember the last time a pre-teen wanted to show tears or be hugged.
Still, in a structure no larger than a public restroom, a dugout at Maugansville Little League became the place where Conococheague grew up.
On Friday, Conococheague celebrated again after breaking a 10-10 tie in the sixth with Levi Taylor’s grand slam to win the state title and advance to the Mid-Atlantic tournament.
Players ran laps around the field carrying a state flag and the championship banner. Parents excitedly charged the field to take pictures and video, for memories’ sake. The players used bottles of sparkling cider to have a major-league celebration.
Friday’s celebration was perfect only because Conococheague practiced it Tuesday.
Someday, when this is all over, this all might really sink in. It will be a day well after all the writing has been washed off minivans but is still on the wall.
Tuesday marked a big step in the life of each Conococheague player. That comeback against South Maryland — and the ensuing celebration — will stick with them forever.
It was the day each player learned the true meaning of joy and teamwork. They learned selflessness — the ability to trust in others because no matter how talented you are, you will always need the help of someone in your dugout. No star is bigger than the team.
Those are practices we all could perfect.
Bob Parasiliti is a sports writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or email@example.com.