7th Grade Assessment – Unit 3 – RL.7.1, RL.7.2, RL.7.3, RL.7.5
Read this story. Then answer questions 1 through 5.
Molly is the only girl on the eighth-grade baseball team. This story takes place during her first weeks of practice.
The Girl Who Threw Butterflies
by Mick Cochrane
During practice that week, the team worked on the finer points of playing the field—
defending against the bunt, executing cutoffs. Molly learned that if she gave up a big hit she couldn’t
just stand on the mound and kick the rubber in disgust. There was no time to be angry with herself. She
had to back up third base.
5 Every day Molly learned how much more there was to baseball than what the camera showed
on television. With a runner on first base, it was the pitcher’s responsibility to talk to the shortstop and second
baseman, letting them know who should cover second. When a ball was hit into the air, Molly was supposed to
point at it so that her fielders could pick it up. And if the first and third basemen were both charging a bunt,
it was Molly’s job to
10 call out who should take it and where to throw it. Shouting didn’t come naturally to Molly,
but Morales teased her into it. He cupped his ear like an old, hard-of-hearing man. “Did someone
say something?” Before long, Molly was hollering out instructions to her infielders loud and clear.
She stopped worrying about sounding ladylike and
concentrated on being heard.
15 Morales was gentle with physical errors. They were unavoidable, part of the game.
What really bugged him were examples of what he called a failure to communicate. Two
outfielders running into each other because neither called for the ball, that sort of thing.
“You gotta talk to each other,” he told them over and over again.
At the last practice before their game Morales sat them on the bench and taught them
20 a simple set of signs they’d use when the team was up at bat. If he touched his belt
buckle, that was the indicator: What followed then was the real sign, the rest was
gibberish. A touch of the forearm meant steal, the bill of his cap was bunt.
Molly had always liked to watch the third-base coaches in big league games, all their
twitchy antics, their elaborate coded messages, all that clapping, pointing, wiping. It was
25 comical, but beyond the goofy theatrics, the whole idea fascinated her: an entire system
of wordless communication. She loved the beautiful, perfect clarity of it. A touch of the
forearm meant steal. Nothing more, nothing less. There was no chance to be
misunderstood. There was no need to puzzle over what it meant.
It occurred to Molly that maybe she and her mother ought to try communicating
30 using signs. It was an appealing fantasy. The two of them sitting across from each other at
dinner, silent, just touching their elbows, going to their belt buckles, tugging their
earlobes. It would make for a funny skit. But what if you wanted to convey something
more complicated than “bunt” or “steal”? That was the trouble. “I love you and all that,
but right now everything about you bothers me.” What would be the sign for something like
35 that? Or how about this: “Please don’t make me move to Milwaukee.” Half the time
Molly had no idea what she wanted to get across. No signs could help with that.
During the last practice, it occurred to Molly that in this country of baseball, she
was still a kind of alien. Not a tourist. She was learning the customs, could speak the
language well enough to get by. But she still didn’t quite fit in.Someone like Ben Malone
40 was native born, fluent. He belonged so naturally, he didn’t even know it. He took it for
granted, he didn’t have to think about it. He had no idea how much energy it took to be as
ever-vigilant as Molly had to be on the field, always watching herself, always planning her next
move, rehearsing, calculating.