All Heidi James has ever wanted to do on the softball field is pitch. She started out pitching at age 8 or 9 and pitched every year since.
This year, however, the PHS senior had to leave the pitching circle all together when an assortment of hip and rib ailments, left her physically unable to. When she tried to pitch, she faced a week of adjustments from the chiropractor just to get her body back together again.
“It completely shuts her down physically where she can’t even play the game. She can’t run, she can’t bend when it happens,” said her father and coach Bob James. “One of the tough things for me as a parent and coach, as many years I saw the kid try to perfect the craft of pitching and all the time and effort put into it and kind have it taken away by injury (is tough), but that’s part of the game and part of the things that happen with it.”
The reality of leaving pitching behind began to sink in last summer and fall when her ailments would flare up every time she pitched. James, who went 14-7 with a 2.37 ERA last year and has won 25 games over her career, said it was a struggle to deal with at first, “because I’ve been pitching all my life.”
She admits her softball life is a little less stressful these days, not having to carry the weight of the team on her shoulders. She is channeling all her energy instead to her offensive and defensive part of the game.
James has slid in full-time at shortstop where she anchors the Tigresses defense and has become the table-setter for the offense as leadoff hitter, batting .424 with 18 runs scored.
Batting leadoff bring it’s own stress, James said, who feels “like a Guinea pig because I’ve got to the first one up there.”
Bob James said his daughter hasn’t had said much about it, just keeping it all inside.
“I think with her competitiveness and knowing some of the success she has had in the past, she knows she would have given us more depth and better long-term wise would have helped Madison (freshman pitcher Menzel) a lot. She would haven’t had to carry the brunt of the load this year.”
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org