kelsey shifferdeckerIn February I wrote, What Hockey Pucks and Softballs Have in Common, which has over 30,000 reads to date.  My daughter's teammate took a line drive to the face in the first game of their 2015 season in Nashville.  As I said, "I just witnessed the most frightening event I’ve ever seen in the game of softball this past weekend."   It has forever changed my opinion concerning pitchers wearing face masks.  This is a follow up article to Kelsey's amazing recovery.  

Playing sports has taught me that when faced with adversity, you can choose who you want to be and how you respond to each test you face.

***Photos courtesy of Ball State***

Today, I am happy to update you on Kelsey's unbelievable comeback.  Her injury occurred on February 6th. There is no way anybody who saw her get hit would have believed she’d return to the team during the 2015 season, let alone play. Her mother Nancy described her injuries, “Multiple fractures to her face, cheek, orbital bone, upper palette and sinus cavity.” She spent weeks at home after her surgeries receiving medical care and recovering before actually heading back to Ball State.

And what about school? Well, somehow she managed to keep up with her studies from afar upon returning to school. In 2014 Kelsey was honored as a National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar-Athlete with a 3.946 GPA. Her work ethic and self-discipline surely were key factors of her return to the class room and the field.

Her mom informed everybody, “Kelsey will be returning to school next Saturday, March 14. She will be released to play with a mask for conference games. I can't thank everyone enough for the thoughts, prayers, words of support, etc. that came our way. A special thanks to all our girls who have been so wonderful. They have texted, skyped, etc. and made such an effort to keep her in the loop and still feel a part of the team. That means more to us than I can ever express. God bless you all.”

kelsey pitching

Members of the Ball State Softball Team periodically post to their blog throughout the year. On March 19th Kelsey wrote the following (courtesy of Ball State):

“Hey Cardinal fans! My name is Kelsey Schifferdecker and I’m a junior pitcher from Belton, MO. I am currently majoring in Accounting with a minor in Information Systems.

As some of you may know, I was injured while pitching during our very first game of the season against South Dakota. My injury required facial surgery and I missed the first half of the season while I was recovering at home. This past weekend I returned to Muncie, and I’m extremely excited to be with my team and playing again soon!

Of course it was extremely difficult not being able to play alongside my teammates for most of the season. However, I have learned something important from my experience. In sports, we talk a lot about how to overcome adversity. Of course it’s a lot different when that adversity hits you straight in the face, quite literally in my case. I always thought my most difficult challenge would be a tough loss or feeling like I had let down my team. I never thought I would face a challenge like this.

Throughout my recovery the most difficult part was lying in bed listening to the games, instead of being at the field fighting alongside my teammates. What some people might not realize is that when you play a sport in college you sign up to join a second family. We are by each other’s side day in and day out, fighting to get just a little better each and every day. We have each other’s backs when we fail. We have friends to celebrate with when we accomplish something great. Not only are we there for each other both on and off the field, but also when we step into the crazy adult world and face life after softball. I want to say thank you to my amazing teammates for the support they provided me while I was gone.

There are so many difficult and terrible things that can happen in life. But the people you surround yourself with are what help get you through it. Throughout this experience I have received thoughts and prayers from so many people; my current teammates, former teammates, parents of past and present teammates, other softball teams, coaches, friends, and family. Many people I’ve never even met, yet they took the time to pray for my recovery. It is amazing how the entire softball community really comes together as a whole and becomes one huge family for athletes all across the nation. This huge network of support has meant the world to me. Often the strength others give you outweighs the strength you can give yourself. I am so thankful and blessed to have my friends, family, and my team.

It has been a long road of recovery, and I am still facing new challenges every day. During a talk my freshman year, Coach Stanfill asked me what word I wanted to define me. And I chose fighter. Playing sports has taught me that when faced with adversity, you can choose who you want to be and how you respond to each test you face. I’m continually working each day to live up to that challenge I gave myself two years ago. It was extremely exciting to rejoin the team this past weekend, and I can’t wait until the moment I step on the field again.”

Since rejoining the team, Kelsey has appeared in 5 games with an ERA of 2.86. Her comeback has been physical and mental.  Can you imagine what she must have been feeling the first time she stepped back on the mound?  She is also getting accustomed to her new face mask (picture below). When you think about how demanding a division 1 college softball player’s normal schedule is, the fact that Kelsey was able to overcome such adversity is even more astounding.