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A High School Softball Player Straight Up Hypnotizing the Catcher is the Highlight of 2023 So Far

If the ESPYs still exist and if they still have a category for Play of the Year (and I'm not being facetious; I honestly can't remember watching the show since Norm MacDonald was hosting and horrifying everyone with OJ jokes), they can shut down the voting before it begins. Just 10 weeks into 2023, we have our winner. 

The summer before last, I got back on the diamond for the first time in forever. 

And I'd almost forgotten the stressful, soul-freezing terror that is rounding 3rd and tearing down the baseline only to see the throw come to the plate. Either because you got waved home or, God forbid, you ran the stop sign. Either way, seeing the catcher field the throw clean means you're facing a moment of truth. You'll either be a hero or the rally-killing goat, with the on-deck hitter staring daggers at you because you cost him the chance to drive you in. And it's not like the old days, where putting your head down and driving your shoulder into the catcher's solar plexus is an option; that went the way of the dinosaur a generation ago. And should have years earlier, when Pete Rose murdered Ray Fosse. 

Bettmann. Getty Images.

In this more enlightened age, you either accept your fate and die in disgrace, or you figure out some way to avoid the tag and live a hero's life. Carthage senior Jada Walton did something else entirely. She employed some sort of sorcery never seen before on a softball or baseball diamond. 

I mean, what devilry is this? Part hypnotism. Part staring contest. Part Jedi Mind Trick. Part making eye contact with an Apex predator to show you're the real threat, like Liam Neeson with the wolf in The Grey. All leading up to her finishing move, doing that "Look!" thing. And the poor catcher was already so under Walton's spell she took the cheese, like your dog when you just pretend to throw the stick. By the time she recovered, it was too late. Safe. Another run for Carthage. And there's no shame in that for the catcher. No one could've been ready for this stunt. The same would've happened to anyone who's ever strapped on the mask and chest protector, I can assure her.

So congratulations to Jada Walton. I don't know what the final score was. But if her run decided the game, it was the greatest win for Carthage since Hannibal beat the Romans at Cannae in the Second Punic War. And on his best day, he never managed to pull a better move than Jada just did.