Legacy Christian Academy senior Renee Scheil was looking forward to her final softball season, anchoring the infield at shortstop.
That quickly came to an end on a stolen-base attempt in the top of the first inning of the first game of the season. A perfect throw from senior catcher Kate McLaughlin put the ball in front of the Heritage Christian Academy base runner whose cleat caught Scheil’s glove and broke her wrist inside the glove.
Legacy went on to win the opener 11-1 April 26.
Scheil said the injury looked bad but she didn’t realize it was broken until the following day, after playing keyboard during a concert later Friday evening.
“She was asking to go back into the game a half-inning later but we thought otherwise,” Legacy assistant coach Jesse Martens said.
Two weeks to the day later, Scheil was dressed in the Lions orange home jersey, ready to face Braham, playing catch with teammates before the game with her left hand in a purple cast.
Instead of calling it quits on her final high school softball season, Scheil was adamant to return to the field.
“I knew I was going to play again,” she said, after hearing a lot about one-armed major league baseball pitcher Jim Abbott who, despite being born without a right arm, played for four teams over a 10-year career. “I’ve heard his name a lot.”
After much discussion and fielding workouts, the coaching staff and Scheil decided to move her to the outfield and focus on helping the Lions defensively.
“It’s not as hard as you would think,” Scheil said about the transition to the outfield. An assistant coach loaned her a glove for her right hand.
With her left arm in a cast (pinky and ring finger plus wrist and lower arm encased), Scheil not only learned how to catch the ball with her left hand but also how to throw.
Martens made it clear that the idea to return was Scheil’s and she wasn’t pressured into coming back. “The first time she brought up the idea I was thinking no way because we didn’t want her to do permanent damage to her arm.”
The transition from ball-in-glove to making an accurate and efficient throw back to the infield took some practice.
“We were throwing her some tough balls to get to and she was getting them back in pretty quick,” Martens said. “She gets to balls no one else gets to. She’s a huge loss for us at shortstop but we upgraded our outfield.”
McLaughlin made the switch from catching to shortstop to give the team its best chance for success.
Scheil can’t swing a bat yet so she has a designated batter, through the flex-rule, each time her place comes up in the batting order.
Scheil didn’t have a chance to test her new fielding situation in her first game back.
Her next doctor visit is May 17 and she hopes to have the cast removed, just in time for prom and Legacy’s run through a tough section tournament.
Scheil collected a base-hit in her only at-bat of the spring, so her 1.000 batting average is another silver lining to what could’ve been an abrupt end to her prep softball days.
The Lions lead-off hitter has been a part of the varsity team for the past five seasons and also was a standout on the soccer field and basketball court who suffered from nothing more than an occasional sprained ankle.
The Lions are 6-1 with a team batting average of .289 and on-base percentage of .428 in what has been an eventful spring for the club. Sophomore pitcher Marie McLaughlin had 38 strikeouts in the first three games of the season and also hit the Lions first-ever out of the park home run in an 11-1 win against Heritage Christian April 26.