Missing the bulk of her senior season with the Genoa softball team wasn't what senior right-hander Sarah Muncey had in mind in 2010.
Muncey was coming off a junior season in which she posted a 13-6 record with a 1.76 ERA and was named second-team All-Suburban Lakes League and second-team all-district.
When the Comets played in Florida during spring break in late March, however, she took the mound and started feeling serious discomfort in her right side.
“I went to the hospital when we came back and they said it was inflamed,” Muncey recalled. “It hurt, but it wasn't unbearable and I kept throwing. I did everything I could - therapy, medicine. When I'd throw, I'd wear a strap around my ribs, but it came to the point I just couldn't do it. It was a piercing pain.”
Muncey was diagnosed with an inflamed rib cartilage tear on her right side.
“I didn't sleep for a good two weeks,” she said. “I pushed myself as far as I could go, literally. I pitched on my birthday (April 10 vs. Mohawk). I pitched the entire Mohawk game and then I started against Clyde in our second game that day and I went two innings. As soon as I came out, I took off the strap and went with the trainer and I was bawling.”
Muncey missed Genoa's next 17 games while rehabbing the injury. The Comets had a 5-2 record when she stopped pitching and they went 8-9 without her.
“We had to shut her down and wait until it was completely healed,” coach Tom Kontak said. “If that meant the rest of the season, then so be it. It was very stressful. She was feeling so bad, and she just couldn't do it.
“The team was up and down without her. We had a returning junior (Mallory Murphy) and a freshman (Mackenzie Hoyles) we were using to try to fill Sarah's role. It was a great challenge. Like life, there's bumps in the road, so we decided we were going to handle the adversity the best we could.”
Muncey, who will pitch for Adrian (Mich.) College next season, admitted she had a very difficult time watching her teammates play without her.
“It was really hard, just knowing I couldn't do anything but be a cheerleader for them,” she said. “I would yell as much as I could. It was just hard to not be able to do anything for them, because I knew they were so much much better than that. I'd go to (Murphy and Hoyles) every game and give them pep talks and tell them everything I would think about pitching during a game or about certain batters.”
Muncey, 18, underwent ultrasound treatments and used a cortisone patch as part of her rehab.
She returned on May 8 and pitched two innings in Genoa's win over Cardinal Stritch in the Division III sectional semifinals.
“I was nervous,” Muncey said. “I was just so happy to throw. The second I went out there, everyone was cheering. It felt awesome. I had no pain and I was just relieved.”
Kontak said, “She was pain-free when she threw and she was pain free the next day, so we decided she could give it a try again in the sectional final against Gibsonburg last Friday. She pitched us to a 5-4 win and went all seven innings.”
After a 4-1 district semifinal tournament win over Eastwood on Wednesday, Muncey had a 6-3 record. She went into the game with a 2.75 ERA in 40.2 innings.
“She's a team leader, a captain and an all-district kid,” Kontak said. “This game is all about the pitcher, and Sarah is first class and tough. Many kids would have packed it in by now.”
The Comets (15-11), whose last district title was in 2006 when they reached the state semifinals, were scheduled to play Eastwood in the district semis on Tuesday at Bowling Green High School. The winner will meet either Woodmore or Elmwood for the district title on Saturday.