Chapter 15 The Cages 5
I went in the cage, but didn't put a token in right away. Instead, I took a few practice swings with my right and then my left, trying to time my swing to what I think would be able to hit 80mph. Even though I use to be able to do it perfectly, it's been so long. I don't want to let Noah down and look like a liar or a braggart.
When I finally felt comfortable enough, I put the first token in. The first pitch came, and then went back with the swing of my bat. It was a little off, but I can adjust. I got in the zone and sent back the other eleven pitches, put in a new token and did the same thing with my left.
I let out a big breath of air and let my body fully relax. This was it. The feeling I looked for. I stepped out of the cage, surprised Noah wasn't yelling about, excitedly.
He stood right out side the gate, jaw dropped. I shifted foot to foot, nervously; not sure if he's still excited. For the day that I've known him, he's been showing his emotions without care so he's easy to read. Except for right now.
He looked at me with a sad looking expression. "Jake. Why are you doing this to me?"
My eyes widen with alarm.
"I just said I was the best freshman." He sighed. "Now I actually have competition."
I relaxed and smiled at him.
He gave me the side eye. "Are you going to try the 85?"
I held out my last two tokens and nodded. I wanted to at least try a challenging speed once, before running out of tokens.
He pushed me along to the cage. "Go! Go! I can't wait to see!" He kept pushing and I bumped into something hard. We both had to take a few steps back.
"What the hell?" A tall and very well built guy turned to face us. He glared down, "You kids need to watch where you're going."
I froze, terrified of this guys booming voice.
"Sorry!" Noah jumped out in front of me. "My bad. I was too excited and accidentally pushed him into you."
He sent us another glare and walked towards a few guys at a nearby bench, not bothering to even accept an apology.
"Oops, my bad." Noah faced me, giving me a tight smile. "You okay, Jake? He didn't scare you did he?"
My grip on the bat tightened, but I shook my head no. It's not like the guy was going to hit me. It was only a moment of panic.
Noah patted my shoulder. "That's good. Why don't you go ahead and get in the cage before he gets back. It looks like he's with some friends and they all look pretty serious."
I didn't waste any time and got in the 85mph cage. No need to look for a confrontation with the guy and his buddies. I slid my second to last token in and immediately set up in the righty's box. The balls came quick and I got off to a slow start, only fouling off the first three, but then started to connect with the rest.
The hitting was a good stress relief. I turned to put in my last token, but stopped at the sight outside of the cage. Noah was there smiling at me like a goof, which was normal. But the four guys behind him, staring me down, was anything but normal. I clenched the bat, freezing up again.