Matt awoke slowly, his eyes crusted over from sleep. As he blinked several times to take away the blurriness, he looked around. "Ah…I'm at Brett's place…we…lost yesterday and Dad…"
Matt sat up from the couch as Brett's father came out of his and Brett's mother's room. "Good morning Matt. How are you feeling?"
Matt shook his head. "Sore and a bit of a headache, but other than that, I'm feeling fine."
Brett's father laughed. "I would be surprised if you weren't sore after pitching a complete game. Anyways, good luck at school today. I need to get to work."
"Alright, see you later."
Brett's father waved goodbye and exited the house. Matt swung his legs on the edge of the couch and stood up. There was no one in the guest bathroom so he entered and locked the door behind him. After taking a quick shower, he left the bathroom and sat on a chair in the dining room. Brett soon entered the dining room as well, showered and ready to go. "Ah, I was wondering if you were awake. You ready to go?"
"Yeah, let's get going."
As they walked towards the bus stop, Brett yawned. "How did you sleep last night?"
"I've had better nights."
"You're still thinking about the game?"
"How could I not? I gave up the lead in the final inning."
Brett patted Matt on the shoulder. "And I've struck out for the last at bat for our team several times, a few of them with runners in scoring position. Things like this happen. We just need to brush it off and move on."
Matt looked away. "That's easy for you to say." Matt mumbled under his breath.
"Easy for you to say when you have colleges begging for you to join their team. Heck, you were even told you'd be drafted within the first ten rounds if you went pro. I have yet to receive an offer from any college. A mistake like that killed any chance I had of joining a team of any kind."
Brett didn't say anything as he looked up and walked down the sidewalk. Finally, a few minutes later, he broke the silence. "So that means you're going to give up?"
"You haven't received any offers from any colleges, so you're just going to stop? Not get over a mistake you made?"
"Look, I know what you've been through, and I know who you are as a person, more than even you yourself know. I know that inside you, your competitive fire is still burning. That's the reason why you're this upset. You let down your competitiveness, and that's why you're feeling this way. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you should divert that feeling to keep moving forward, get better. Besides, several scouts from many college teams were at that game last night. I'm sure one of them liked what they saw from you."
"How do you know they were there?"
Brett chuckled. "I…have my methods. I wouldn't be surprised if any day now you'll get a scholarship offer. Just keep on doing what you're doing. It'll pay off sooner rather than later."
Matt was silent as he trudged along to the stop, where several other students were waiting. A few glanced at Matt and scowled. Matt chuckled. "You think they already know?"
Brett smirked and shook his head. "Who knows."
The bus rolled to a stop exactly a minute later and everyone filed onto the bus. The bus rolled along shortly after the last student arrived. After an uneventful bus ride, everyone got off the bus and walked to their lockers. As Matt opened his locker and reached for the books he needed, he heard a voice behind him. "Matt."
Matt turned around and saw his coach standing behind him. "Oh, coach. Rare to see you out of your office so early in the day."
His coach chuckled. "I needed some fresh air."
"In the school hallway?"
"You never know where the fresh air is. Anyways, that's not the main reason. I need to see you in my office now. I'll write you a slip explaining why you're tardy."
Matt nodded and closed his locker. "Alright."
Matt followed his coach until he reached his office, right as the first bell rang. Inside was a woman wearing a black top and black slacks. She stood up as the coach and Matt entered. The coach motioned towards the woman. "Matt, this is Ms. Lisa Stewart."
Lisa reached her hand towards Matt who shook it. "It's a pleasure to meet you ma'am."
"Oh, the pleasure is all mine."
"Don't mean to be rude, but why are you here?"
Lisa smirked. "Sorry, it was rude of me not to introduce myself with my title. I'm Lisa Stewart, chief recruiter for Whitmore College."
"Whitmore College? The small college a couple hours north of here?"
She shook her head. "That's the one. We recently got a new head coach last year, and he put me in charge of finding and recruiting promising talent for our baseball team. You were high on our list after your seven inning, one run game a couple months ago."
"You were at that game?"
"I personally wasn't no, but another scout was and recorded your game. The coach personally asked me to scout you the rest of your games. After recording your games and showing them to him, he wants to offer you an official scholarship. Full ride, room and board included."
Matt was caught off guard by this offer. "A…full ride?"
Lisa nodded. "Indeed."
"What…would I pitch as? A starter? Bullpen? Closer?"
"You will be put as the fifth starter of our rotation for this season. Should you impress the coaches, by next season, you could very well be our ace."
Matt looked down at the ground as thousands of thoughts bombarded his mind. One of his most prominent thoughts however was of Brett. Whitmore College was too small of a school for him. He would probably attend a power conference school, attend for a season or two, and get drafted into the pros. If he accepted, any chance of them continuing to be teammates would be gone. "I…am honored that you have extended this invitation. How long do I have until you need me to make a decision?"
"We would prefer if you made your decision by the end of the day. I know it seems rushed, but we do have our eyes on another potential starter, and a few rival schools are already offering him scholarships. We do want you, which is why we came to you first, but if you aren't interested, we would also like to pursue him."
Matt nodded. "I understand. Are you able to meet here after school?"
Lisa nodded. "I am. I can stay until three in the afternoon. If I don't hear an answer by you then, I'll assume that the answer was a no and go."
"I'll have my answer before then, and even if it is a no, I'll let you know instead of keeping you in the dark."
Lisa nodded again. "Very well. Thank you for your time Matt."
The coach stood up from his desk. "Alright, time for you to get to class." He handed Matt a slip of paper. "Here's the note I promised. I look forward to hearing your answer as well."
Matt smiled and left the office. He made his way down the nearly abandoned hallways to his classroom. He handed the teacher the note and sat down at his desk. The words of the teacher seemed to garble in Matt's mind as he processed everything. At lunch, he would have to talk with Brett.
Meanwhile, in front of the school, Lisa Stewart was talking on her cell phone. "Yes sir, I offered him the scholarship. He wants until the end of school to make a decision, which is entirely reasonable considering the plethora of changes accepting the offer would make in his life."
A deep voice grunted in approval. "I see. It does seem though that he is leaning towards accepting, yes?"
"It appears so. He looked delighted that we offered him the scholarship."
"That's good. It seems Simmons has offered Lance a scholarship as well and promising him the position of ace upon this first season there. We need his answer by the end of school, no extensions will be allowed. Understood?"
"I need to be going. Call me as soon as you hear his answer."
The line went dead as Lisa put her phone back in her pocket. Lance Breckman…a left-handed pitcher whose fastball reaches the lower nineties already and has a changeup and cutter in his arsenal as well. He's definitely better currently than Matt is…but his potential is…lacking. I can see why Coach wanted to offer the scholarship to Matt first. If he reaches his incredible potential…he could be one of the best pitchers to ever play the game. If he hadn't played under the shadow of his friend…he would have been offered a multitude of scholarships.
The bell rang, signaling the end of the period, and lunch break for Matt. He nearly bolted out the door and to his locker, putting his books away. As he closed his locker, he could see Brett walking up towards him. "Yo Matt, what did Coach want?"
"I saw Coach talking to you earlier and you followed him. What was it about?"
Matt smirked. "That's actually what I want to talk to you about. We should get our lunches first."
Brett nodded as they walked to the cafeteria. After getting their lunch, they sat at their usual table. "So, what's up?"
Matt took a bit out of the corn. "I received a scholarship offer. Full ride."
Brett smiled. "Oh really? Where at?"
Brett nodded. "I see. So you told them you accepted the offer?"
"No…I haven't. I have until after school to give my answer, but I didn't want to make it without talking with you first."
"If I go there, there will be no chance of us being teammates in college. There's always a chance I could either receive a partial scholarship or be given the opportunity to try out for a big-name college you'll attend and get in that way. I don't want to necessarily close the door on that either…"
Brett swallowed the bit of food that was in his mouth and looked sternly at Matt. "Matt, you don't need to harm your future for my sake."
"Whitmore College isn't known for its athletics yes, but it does have excellent academic programs as well, especially in the technological department. If you don't go pro, having a degree from there will help you get a job, much less get this education for free. It'll completely take away the financial strain of student loans. I say take this opportunity and give it your all. Who knows, all it takes is for one good season for a college to be on the map for athletics. You could be that person."
Matt took another bite of his lunch. "I see…"
"Besides, if we both do go pro, the odds of us being drafted by the same team is highly unlikely. We'll have split up at some point. Accept the offer."
Matt nodded. "Alright…I'll accept it, but in return, promise me something."
"What's the promise?"
"That we both meet in the college world series. We'll both do our best to make sure our team makes it there."
Brett smiled and nodded. "I promise. We'll have the best series ever played in college baseball!"
Matt smiled. "Alright, that's settled then."
The rest of lunch went on as usual, with them talking about their classes and teachers. After lunch, time seemed to drag by for Matt as he eagerly awaited the end of school. Finally, the final bell rang. Matt was the first person who dashed out of the room and marched straight to the coach's office. The coach and Lisa were waiting for him.
The coach looked at Matt. "So, you've made your decision?"
Matt nodded. "I have."
Matt turned to Lisa. "I'll be honored to accept your offer."