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The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach traces the trial and tribulations of the main characters, one of them Henry Scrirmshander whose fielding potential in baseball is recognized by Mike Schwartz, a student and baseball captain at Westish College. Despite the fact that Henry is skinny and short, a most unlikely athlete, Mike is sure that Henry has an unmatched talent and he encourages him to, "keep company only with people who uplift you." Henry, having secured a place at the school, joins the team and gets his chance when the regular backstop, Tennant, punches Mike and is sidelined. However, things go disastrously wrong after what appears to be a reckless throw affects Henry's confidence and changes everything.
Pella is the daughter of the college president, Guert Affenlight, with "daddy issues," and a failed marriage to a much older man. She believed her marriage would save her from having to go to Yale and meet her father's expectations, but she flies to Westish, determined to resolve her issues, recapture what's left of her youth and sort out her life. By taking classes at Westish, she feels that she can find her place. Pella has, admittedly, made a few rash decisions in her life and, when she left her husband she packed only an overnight bag. Pella's father is surprised at her determination when she arrives but does worry about her commitment. Before long, Pella will be working in the college kitchen and may find a new direction for her life- in food.
Pella and Mike start a relationship but Pella will eventually cheat on Mike with Henry. This confirms her insecurities as she always seems to sabotage her own chances of happiness. She is, however, intuitive and has recognized something in Mike which he refuses to acknowledge as he watches others improve under his direction and yet his own playing career is effectively over.
It will take the death of Pella's father to make Pella realize that she can find purpose in her life. She resolves to help her father find peace and finally understands his motives. She has now matured, although it has taken all of her recent experiences to make her determined to be successful.
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