Softball: Lugo returns to lineup sooner than expected
Guerin Prep's Anna D'Alessandro races to first base to try to force out Elmwood Park's Ariana Kelley, during the Gators' game at Elmwood Park. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:54AM
A tough play on a stolen base attempt at second base on in the fifth inning of a game against Gordon Tech on March 21, left Emily Lugo down in the dirt and in pain.
There was controversy over the play, and the furor helped fuel a Gator comeback victory with the winning hit coming from her replacement that day. That win seemed hollow when by week’s end it was declared that Lugo suffered a torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus in her left knee that would keep her out for the rest of the season and beyond.
The team went along with their season trying to fill the defensive void she left putting other players out of position and just making things more difficult overall. After further testing, the injury proved to not be as serious, and she began rigorous rehab and was back in limited batting duty by mid-April and had her final bout of therapy on April 29. To say it was a relief to her and the team as a whole is an understatement.
“My therapist told me that I didn’t tear it because I was doing phenomenal,” Lugo said regarding her early therapy. “When I got the MRI, I found that if I worked hard then I wouldn’t be out for that long. I was able to do more stuff than I didn’t think I’d be able to do if I actually had a tear. It was huge because it meant no surgery, just therapy, and I could be back playing. It was the ultimate to not have to go through surgery.”
While her knee is nowhere near 100 percent, it’s a work in progress every day that gets her closer to where she was to start the year. Her presence helps stabilize the line-up and her return only helps morale, knowing they have a teammate back that they thought they had lost.
“I was just excited,” said Guerin head coach Andy DaMato about originally hearing the injury wasn’t as bad. “She brings a lot to the team, and she’s always in good spirits. She took her rehab seriously and she’s still doing the things she needs to do to get back into the feel of the game. It’ll be nice to get everyone back to where they’re more comfortable.”
Lugo credits the therapy she got not only for helping her physically, but emotionally. It provided her with not just direction on what she needed to do to get better, but gave her the confidence to fight through the pain and keep the finish line in mind. The injury has given her a new perspective as the season draws to a close, and she wants to make the most of the second chance she has on this season.
“I worked hard so I can’t give up now,” Lugo said. “We have (a few) more games left and then the playoffs. I just have to be more careful and know what I have to do and not to do and just play the game and be thankful.”
The team had continued its back-and-forth defensive performances last week in Suburban Christian Conference play. Guerin (10-11, 3-10) committed nine errors in a 13-5 loss at Wheaton Academy on April 30. The offense came around to get 13 hits, but left 10 runners on base and couldn’t overcome the defensive miscues. Sophomore Anna D’Alessandro drove in a run while seniors Molly Campbell and Cassidy Tarpey were responsible for the other four runs batted in. Junior Jessi Catallo reached base four times with three hits and a walk.
Sophomore pitcher Sarah Benavides had a better defensive outing behind her as the Gators committed just one error in a 4-3 loss at Chicago Christian on May 2. She struck out three and scattered seven hits. Tarpey had another three-hit day and drove in a run while senior Nicole Kulach had two hits of her own. D’Alessandro batted in a run while junior Faith Duda earned an RBI with a walk. The Gators ended the game with the bases loaded when the Knights made a nice catch thwart Guerin’s final chance.
“I’m really proud of the girls because they played a great game against Chicago Christian,” said DaMato. “We played them really well, and we had a chance to win.”