After coaching the Krushers, Kristy starts feeling like something is missing. It finally hits her that she misses playing. The other girls seem pretty confused, but it makes sense to Logan because he plays too. Claudia tells her that the SMS softball team is having tryouts and that she should tryout. Kristy worries that she won't have time because of her failure at running for president, but the other girls tell her to just tryout and then see what happens.
During tryouts, she only recognize one other girl. Bea is a math genius like Stacey but unlike Stacey has long black that she wears in a braid. Many of the other girls immediately pair up for drills together because they played on the team before. One girl, Marcia, catches a ball without putting on her glove and acts like it wasn't a big deal, even though it turned her hand bright red. The coach calls out Kristy for making a good play, which leaves her all excited.
The day the list for the new team goes up, Kristy finds Mary Anne waiting for her and checks the list to find out she made it. Mary Anne tells her that she already looked and knew but would have known anyway by the look on her face. Kristy then meets the only other girls who made the team: Bea, Tonya a seventh grader, and Dilys a sixth grader. Marcia and Tallie, two of the stronger players, come over and tell the girls that they aren't really members of the team until they complete their initiation.
As they explain it, every player went through an initiation in the past. If they don't do it, the other players will make them look bad. They'll do things like put spins on their balls or knock them down when they run. Kristy obviously doesn't want to do anything, but the other girls seem pretty fine with it. They have to spray paint an old equipment shed behind the field.
Charlie drives Kristy to Bea's house for a “team party” to welcome the new girls. She pretends to go to her door but actually meets her down the street. They spray paint the shed, and then Tonya pulls out a cigarette. Her and Bea offer smokes to the other girls who refuse and then promptly cough like crazy because they don't actually smoke.
The next morning, Kristy wakes up feeling bad about what they did. She feels even worse when the radio breaks in with a story about how the equipment shed caught fire the night before. Someone saw the fire, called for help, and then tried to put it out but was injured. Kristy instantly thinks about how spray paint is flammable and freaks out when she realizes her can is missing.
Even though the softball team is not the BSC, Kristy calls an emergency meeting at her house anyway with the other three. Tonya and Bea really could care less and don't think they should tell anyone. Dilys is less certain but agrees to go with the crowd. Tannie then calls and tells them that if they squeal, the team will stick together. They will claim there was no initiation, no hazing, nothing. The girls reluctantly agree to stick together.
Kristy feels even worse when she starts getting threatening notes in her locker. The first one says that the writer knows what she did, but the next note asks for $50 to keep quiet. When she meets with the other girls, they all got notes too. The team makes Kristy look bad because she won't stop worrying, and the coach starts wondering what's wrong with her team. Then, news comes down that the school found the boys' team responsible and is shutting it down. She immediately calls an emergency BSC meeting.
Since she doesn't know what to do, she tells her friends about the initiation and the hazing. Stacey is the only one who doesn't seem surprised and points out that she did crappy things with the cheerleaders. They all agree to stand by her no matter what. Since she can't handle Logan losing his spot on the team for something she did, she decides to go to the principal on Monday morning and confess.
When Kristy wakes up Monday morning, there's a story on the radio. A group of high school kids confessed to starting the fire and came forward because they felt bad about the boys' team getting disbanded. They planned on coming back and putting it out to make themselves look like heroes, but the fire spread too fast and then that guy got hurt. That guy – by the way – will be totally fine.
Kristy then finds the missing can of paint under her bed where it fell when she threw down her bag. She talks to the other new players and tells them that she was about to confess. Dilys says she's proud of her and wishes she had her strength. The other girls wonder about who sent the notes, and then Dilys sheepishly admits that she did it in the hopes of making them confess. They all agree to work together and to stop initiations from happening in the future. When the BSC ask her if she'll stick with the team, she says it depends on what happens in the future, but I'm guessing no.
There are two other stories happening in this book. The first is about Stacey and Claudia who volunteer to take over coaching duties, even though their only experience comes from playing in gym class. They keep forgetting the name of drills Kristy told them to do, and the only things they do know are too sophisticated for the players. They actually do a fairly good job though.
The other story is about how Karen wants to be older, which is where the copycat part comes into play. When Mary Anne sits for her, she asks her tons of questions about whether she has a boyfriend and what classes she takes in school. She talks about how her own school is really babyish and won't play with Andrew in the mud because that's something kids do.
She comes to Krushers practice dressed almost exactly like Stacey, which is pretty disturbing. During practice, she refuses to play with the other kids and makes her pretend husband, Ricky, sit in the stands with her. He eventually gives up and goes to play, but she just wants to sit and talk with the big kids.
This leads up to her following Kristy around for an entire weekend. She wants them to do their nails together and try on clothes. Kristy is super stressed and just wants to be alone, but Karen won't even let her watch a movie on television alone. When Karen starts bugging her about going to the mall and spending more time with her, Kristy finally snaps. She then feels bad and tells Karen that being older isn't always fun and that she should focus on being a kid. Since she still feels bad, she agrees to do something fun with her later, which is punishment enough.
*I love that Kristy couldn't handle running a campaign for president, not even being president just running the campaign, but now she thinks she has time for regular practices and games.
*Sam literally tells Kristy that the teams at SMS have initiation rituals and jokes about how she'll have to do one if she makes the team. The next chapter, when she finds out it's true, she's all in shock.
*Charlie picks Kristy up like an hour or less after the spray painting incident but somehow does not detect the smell of paint or cigarettes on her.
*Mary Anne says that the coach of the boys' team called a meeting for the following week, which is when they'll learn what evidence they found. Uh, what? Shouldn't the guys getting kicked off their team at least know why it happened?
*Stacey says something about what constitutes a strike, and Kristy tells her that's too sophisticated for the Krushers. Seriously, they don't know what a strike means? How do they know when to get off home plate?
*They're are multiple mentions of Stacey wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers cap, which is a team that has not existed since 1957. I can't figure out if the ghostwriter made a mistake of it it's Stacey trying to be super cool. She'd totally be one of those Williamsburg hipsters today...
*When Kristy explains softball drills during a BSC meeting, Mallory is the only one who understands her. She explains that when you have a family as big as the Pikes, you sometimes want to do more than just play games.
*For her first day of coaching, Stacey wears a white v-neck tee shirt that is really big with a black sports bra underneath, black Nike shoes with a yellow swoosh on each side, black bicycle shorts with yellow stripes, and a Brooklyn Dodgers cap. She also gets to wear Kristy's whistle.
*Karen shows up later with a white v-neck tee shirt worn over a black bathing suit top, black shorts with yellow stripes, running shoes, and a cap.
*For her first day of coaching, Claudia wears a tie dye crop top, purple sweatpants that she cut off at the knee, red and white striped socks, and a red satin baseball cap. She also brings a whistle shaped like a bird that she made in art class, which really doesn't work.
*Claudia also wears – for a BSC meeting no less – an oversized yellow shirt with a big red buttons shaped like an x, super big white pants, red Doc Martens with yellow and black laces, and earrings that say stop on one ear and go on the other.
*This book really doesn't fit the whole middle school mentality. It's like the ghostwriter heard about hazing being a problem and decided to make a book about it. It doesn't seem like something that really happens at this age level.
*So everyone has to show up for tryouts and try for a spot on the team, but all the old players make it. There's only room for four new girls, which means only four girls graduated last year or all the other newbies sucked. Also, do the returning players really need to try out, or do they just automatically make it?
*I actually tried out for the softball team my freshman year of high school after not playing on a team for awhile – cough, years, cough – and it was pretty much a given that those who played for the coach before would make it onto the team. In case you're wondering, no, no I did not make the team.
*Why is this book Kristy and the Copycat? Karen doesn't start following her around until one of the last chapters and seems way more into the other girls. It should have been Kristy and Team or something equally stupid.
*I strongly dislike that Kristy gets off without any punishment. Even though they didn't burn down the shed, those girls did do something wrong. You know if another BSC member was in a similar position that she would push them to go forward and tell the truth.
*Is there ever another mention of Kristy playing softball in the series? I'm trying to remember the books that come later, but I can't think of a single instance of her still being on the team. There's that one book with Watson where – I think – she tries out and doesn't make it?
*Mary Anne sits for Karen and Andrew because their mom and step-dad are going to a garden party. She says she doesn't know what a garden party is but that their outfits seem appropriate. Karen's mom wears a big hat with an upturned brim that has a flower pinned to it. That totally makes me think of Blossom!