Redshirt sophomore pitcher Erica Wright heard a soft click in her right rib cage as she closed the door at church last spring. She sat in the service, breathing heavily in pain.
“I just thought, ‘Oh no, this is happening again,’” Wright said.
It started in July 2015, when Wright felt pain in her shoulder.
“I couldn’t pitch at all and that’s not like me,” Wright said.
She found out that her first right rib was broken and with time and rest, she thought she would be back for fall ball. In November, the doctors discovered it wasn’t healing, so she had it removed.
Wright had just started pitching again last spring when she felt that familiar click. Her second rib was broken. Despite rehabilitation, the injury only grew worse. In March 2016, Wright had her second rib removed and didn’t take the circle until mid-October.
“I did a throwing program for six weeks and then I started pitching,” Wright said. “So, over the course of this whole thing I literally had not pitched for a year and a half. I guess I had, but I was on a pitch count that was hardly anything. Not pitching for a year and a half when you’ve pitched almost every single day of your life is crazy to think about now.”
Head coach Connie Clark said that it would take Wright until March to improve her pitch. This past Saturday, Wright pitched her best game of the season against Cal State Fullerton. Wright only allowed one hit in the final inning in the shutout 4-0 victory. This was her first one-hit shutout since May 2015, when the Longhorns shut out Oklahoma State 11-0.
But Wright has been frustrated with her recovery and Clark saw that. She sent Wright motivational quotes and texts throughout the last season, but most importantly, told Wright that she wasn’t expecting her skills to recover right away, especially her velocity.
“It was hard to see her have to really just be patient through that,” Clark said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of things patient about Erica Wright. She just works.”
Through it all, Wright has found comfort in her faith, in the place she discovered that her time away from softball would be longer than planned.
“People have been asking me about my injury and, honestly, my identity isn’t found in softball.” Wright said. “It’s nice to know that softball is just something God has given me a talent for and I can glorify him through it. An injury doesn’t define me.”
Wright will continue to improve this weekend as the team opens conference play in Stillwater against Oklahoma State.