Does Cinderella wear striped Seuss socks?
Well, it’s better than polka dots. If you’re a sports fanatic, then you know that the month of March brings forth several Cinderella stories for public witness. Take for instance the Vermont Catamounts, who ousted Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA tourney. Or Bucknell, who shocked Kansas, incited nationwide discussions about the school’s whereabouts, and made the word itself – Bucknell – a part of our collective vocabulary. These are Cinderella teams, equipped with uniforms that mark the aesthetics of our underdog times. Vermont’s green. Bucknell’s orange. Aspects that summon our attention and invite the old familiarization process – the “you look fabulous, let’s get to know each other” routine. Because besides bringing devastation to our bracket picks and office pools, these teams instill in us a kind of collective enthusiasm, a belief in the long shot, and, most of all, a soft, graceful tune that makes us want to put on our glass slippers and dance ’til midnight. The Aspen High baseball team knows how to dance. It’s absurd how eloquent they are on their toes. It’s embarrassing, awkward, blush-worthy. It’s also somewhat appealing. Certainly a pleasure to watch. Especially when they are wearing their striped socks.”The socks definitely improve our performance on the baseball field,” said sophomore Matt Beirne. “I think they improve our lives in general.”What’s the story behind them?”We want to be us,” explained coach Rick Ryan, “and that means being unique. A year ago we decided striped socks was our thing. We heard comments from opposing dugouts as the year went on. We took the field to chants of ‘Dr. Seuss! Dr. Seuss! Dr. Seuss’ against Olathe during last year’s playoff game. Of course, those chants quickly died off when the game started and we nearly pulled off a major upset.”Who knows – maybe the striped socks could be the corsage that gets Aspen invited to the end-of-year dance this time around. Maybe that’s what the socks do – pull off upsets.They certainly gave Aspen a boost last Friday when they faced Estes Park in the first game of the Machebeuf tournament in east Denver. The squad shocked everyone, including themselves, when they stomped the Bobcats 19-3. Senior co-captain Pat Faurer went 4-for-4, including a double, a triple, and five RBIs. Sophomore Andy MacCracken matched his teammate, going 4-for-4 and knocking in three runs. Junior Kevin Coulombe and senior David Porter did an excellent job sharing time on the mound, allowing only three runs and 10 hits combined.In the second game of the tournament, Aspen faced a stacked Machebeuf team – composed of eight returning starters from last year’s team that lost to Eaton, the 2004 state champs, 3-2 in the state playoffs. Aspen was up 1-0 in the first inning, after Matt Fox drove in Beirne off a line-drive single up the middle. However, Machebeuf proved too strong for Aspen, scoring the next 14 runs off 12 hits.In the final game of the tournament, Aspen struggled at the plate, scoring only two runs off six hits. They fell to Strasburg 6-2.All this came after -Slurpies.Restroom stops.John Denver at full blast.Lessons learned.Perhaps the biggest lesson that Aspen took from its performance last weekend was the realization that they can compete with anyone. Their overall record now stands at 2-4, but their potential is growing every time they escape the snow and go to work on grass. “That’s the key – we’re competing,” said Ryan. “What does not kill us only makes us stronger. I want us to play to the level we are capable of, and see where we land. If that’s good enough to steal a few upsets, well, it’s even better.”And will they succeed? Yes! They will, indeed! (98 and _ percent guaranteed.)Of course, only time will tell whether or not this will be a Cinderella year for Aspen. Either way, there is one thing for certain: No matter how long it takes for the snow to melt, and no matter how many literary geniuses they get compared to by jealous opposition, nothing is going to knock the socks off the Aspen High baseball squad. They’ll be wearing those smelly things all season long.Aspen’s next game is this afternoon at 4 p.m. at De Beque.
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