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I probably should have prepped by hitting the batting cages once or twice.

But no. I trusted that the only skill I really needed to play in a charity softball game Saturday was my Jersey-honed ability to talk smack on the field: “He can’t hit, he can’t hit, he can’t hit. …”

That would be me who can’t hit. Two swings. A foul ball. Another swing. Out.

But nobody cared. This was the United Way All-Star Softball Classic, a game that wasn’t about the score, but raising awareness of — and money for — homeless youth.

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My Blue Team was headed by Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame catcher Dan Wilson and included Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton, another Seattle Sonics legend, Slick Watts, Seattle star chef Ethan Stowell and ZUM gym founder Peter Shmock.

Opposing team captain and Mariners Hall of Fame right fielder Jay Buhner loaded his team up with his own DNA — sons Chase and Gunner along with “bench coach” Edgar Martinez, Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, KOMO 4 anchor Mary Nam, Safeco Insurance President Matt Nickerson, Marv “The Milkman” Williams from Seattle Children’s and “The Art of Racing in the Rain” author Garth Stein.

KIRO-FM’s Don O’Neill brought his son, Gunner, onto the field with us.

I probably should have let the kid bat for me.

“Hit it in the gap, Nicole,” Raikes Foundation co-founder and former Gates Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes advised me. “And have fun.”

Second up, I popped out.

“You’ve got a nice swing, Nicole!” Wilson told me. (You’re very kind.)

But then Sonics great Shawn Kemp got up for the other team. The Reign Man swung — and popped out, just like me. (Sorry, but I just couldn’t stop grinning.)

There was plenty more to smile about. We won, 22-17, and in a brief ceremony on the field, Wilson named Stowell (who hit a grand-slam home run) the game’s MVP. His award? A gift certificate to any Ethan Stowell restaurant he wants to visit.

They were still tallying up the event’s pledges on Monday, but had already hit $1 million.

At least they hit something. Sigh.

Sign, Hillary, sign!

We are on the lookout for a very large squirrel. It was sent by the Republican National Committee to follow Hillary Rodham Clinton on her current book tour wearing a T-shirt that says: “Another Clinton in the White House is Nuts.”

But there was no sign of it at University Book Store last Wednesday, when Clinton signed some 1,200 copies of her new book, “Hard Choices.”

There was, however, a Secret Service sniffing dog named Maximus Boom, a hefty Swiss Army knife pulled from one of the photographer’s bags, and a woman wearing a panda head who said she moved to the U.S. from China just so she could vote for Clinton. Wow.

And, in the background, wearing large headphones and hunched over her laptop was Huma Abedin, Clinton’s aide and the wife of serial sexter and former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner.

Lois Lee Horn, 91, was moved to the front of the line because, well, she’s 91.

“My first vote was for FDR and my last vote is going to be for Hillary,” she told me. “If I live that long.”

It’s been an interesting tour, to be sure. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor happened upon Clinton’s signing at a Pentagon City Costco two Saturdays ago in sandals and a striped shirt. So did U.S. Rep. John Lewis (who wore a suit).

And on Thursday in L.A., “Glee” actor Chris Colfer waited for his moment with Clinton, then tweeted about it.

One couple stepped away from the table and sealed the signing with a kiss — as if they had just bungee-jumped.

But Barbara Ramey walked away from the table in tears, while her son Preston, 8, carried the book Clinton had just signed. (“This is heavy!” he said. Agreed; it’s 657 pages long — not much shorter than “The Goldfinch,” for crying out loud).

“Oh, my God,” Ramey told me. “She just had a conversation with my son.”

“She was interested in you!” she said to the kid. He, on the other hand, was more interested in the Lego Ninjago book Ramey was buying him for waiting without whining.

“When Hillary becomes president,” the mother assured the son, “you’re going to be really excited.”

One can hope.

Punk and Circumstance

Yeah, yeah, Krist Novoselic played Safeco Field with Sir Paul McCartney, won a Grammy for Best Rock Song and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“But what is sure to be the highlight” of the last year, joked Antioch University Seattle President Brian Baird, was giving the commencement address at the school’s graduation Monday.

In it, Novoselic (who piloted a plane to Seattle from his home in Naselle, Pacific County) said that he was getting his bachelor’s degree online from Washington State University. He studies when he’s touring, and when he’s in the studio.

“I really respect you graduates and the hard work you’ve done,” said Novoselic, who, at 6 foot 7, looked like a small building in a cap and gown. “I took an appreciation of music class. I got an ‘A’!”

The crowd cheered.

“Biology?” he said. “B-plus.”

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

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