Injuries hamper Lady Jags softball season
One of the worst parts of sports is the possibility of injuries, whether just a scratch to a broken limb. This season the Cedar Shoals softball team is on the injury bug’s bad side. This issue has derailed the team’s season, but they’re slowly getting back on track.
The COVID-19 pandemic halted all athletic activity in spring of 2020, so athletes stopped playing and practicing under the guidance of a coach at school. They then spent much of 2020-21 at home attending classes virtually, and some athletes took breaks from sports altogether.
“If you’re an athlete and want to play sports, you don’t do as much outside of your season to prepare yourself enough,” Athletic Trainer Patrick Murray said.
Murray has been an athletic trainer for eight years, including four at Cedar. He says shoulder and arm injuries have been prevalent this season for softball players.
“There has been a lot of shoulder discomfort. That’s usually from overuse more than from structural integrity,” said Murray. “We see a lot of people with sore shoulders or forearms, and it’s just from getting back into softball.”
Overuse in sports like softball can be detrimental to a player — that’s why pitchers cannot start every single game. It’s impossible to stop injuries, but slowing down the rate of injuries is possible.
“We like to call it prehab,” said Murray. “You do rehab after an injury, you do prehab before injuries. If we know that we’re having a lot of shoulder injuries in softball, getting them in early to do work on their shoulders is the best way that we can try to prevent injuries.”
Prehab can differ depending on the injury a certain player is prone to.
“We started the season with five pitchers and we’ve been basically down to two for the whole season,” Assistant Softball Coach John Gaines said. “Before we even started playing games we basically lost three players to rotator cuffs, elbows and just weird things that normally don’t happen to girls playing softball.” Gaines has been a softball coach for 16 years, including two at Cedar.
“When you lose someone who’s put in a lot of time and effort in getting ready for the season and then they’re either gone for an extended period of time or the whole year, like one of our pitchers, it’s demoralizing,” Gaines said.“You try to be the adult and put the good face on but you know deep down you feel for that kid and the team because you know they’re going to suffer.”
Players have ideas on how to slow down the frequency of injuries.
“We need to stretch more in order to lower our injury rate,” said Junior Second Baseman Inya Waller.
The Cedar softball team currently has a 1-14 record going into their last game Tuesday, which Gaines says is a reflection of the team’s tough schedule.
“We play in a region with some of the best teams in the state, every game is a challenge,” said Gaines.