It was an injury that can shake an athlete to their very core.
Pain. Fear. The great unknown. Will I ever play again, and if so, when?
All of those feelings were real for Xavier softball pitcher Emily Richards earlier this week, when she was struck in her pitching shoulder (right) by a line drive off the bat of a player from Phoenix Camelback.
After a few days of rest and no worse the wear, Richards recovered nicely and was in the circle on Friday (March 13) as the Gators played the first of two games in their own Invitational tournament at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix.
Richards pitched five solid innings, giving up four hits, as Xavier defeated Glendale Raymond S. Kellis 15-4 in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule. Xavier fell to Buckeye Verrado 12-11 in its second game.
The tourney wraps up on Saturday (March 14) and Xavier will play two more games, at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Richards likes to stay on top of her game by throwing even on days when she doesn’t pitch in a game. Her routine was interrupted when she was instructed to rest, but it was better than perhaps not being able to throw for a long time.
“I was pretty scared and shocked when it happened. I was crying,’’ said Richards, a junior. “The athletic trainer (Laurie White) came out and we put ice on it and she told me she thought it was only a bad bruise, and it was.’’
Against Kellis, Richards was able to work on refining one of her pitches, the drop ball.
Xavier, serving as the visiting team in this one, took advantage of the Kellis pitcher’s control problems and scored four runs on only one hit in the top of the first inning. The only hit was a two-run single by Richards. Three walks and a hit batter also aided Xavier’s cause.
Another hit batter and another walk contributed to three more runs in the second inning. From there, the only suspense was if the Gators could get the game wrapped up within five innings.