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Comeback Kid: The Story of Sophomore Softball Player Anna Florczak

Keelen Barlow, Managing Editor of Social Media

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Sophomore Anna Florcak runs the bases, in a game against Warren Central, after her 2nd home run of the season

After all that, she was finally getting her chance.
Finally she was donning the red and green and finally she was stepping to the plate. After a foot injury robbed sophomore Anna Florczak of her freshman softball season, she had waited a long time for this. From the dugout, she was forced to watch her teammates have all the fun during the 2017 season. But none of it matters now, it’s just her, the opposing pitcher and the ball.
“I was honestly very nervous about it all,” Florczak said. “I wasn’t really feeling pressure, but it’s almost like it was a surreal moment for me. I’m actually playing. I’m actually in this uniform about to go hit the ball.”
***
She knows all the dates. Jan. 9: the injury; Feb. 4: her first doctor’s visit; Feb. 27: her first surgery. We’ll go back to January 9, 2017. At first she thought it was no big deal, but what started as no big deal ended with a torn ligament in her left foot. In the first indoor practice of the season, Florczak stepped on a metal plate during fielding drills, twisting her foot in an odd way.
“At first I thought the injury wasn’t going to be a big deal because it hurt but I could somewhat walk on it, obviously with a limp, but I could put weight on it, so I figured over time it would get better,” Florczak said.
But it didn’t get better. A month later Florczak visited with a sports physician, who delivered the news: her bones were essentially separating as a result of the injury. The recovery time was six months, wiping out any chance of Florczak playing in the 2017 season.
“The first few weeks after the surgery I was devastated when they told me that the actual recovery time wasn’t until September of 2017,” Florczak said. “The whole injury hit me really hard.”
For head coach Matt Marino, Florczak injury was a big blow to the 2017 squad.
“We thought it was a huge blow to our team because with Anna she can play just about anywhere in the field I didn’t know from a hitting perspective how she was going to be, but she’s gotten a lot stronger since last year. For us it was a huge loss defensively more than anything,”
What she missed was perhaps only the most successful season, in terms of wins/losses, in the last decade of LN softball. From the dugout she watched fellow freshman Taylor Erschen hit 11 home runs. She watched the team’s thrilling run to the program’s first sectional title since 1998, helping as best as she could by uplifting teammates.
“It was honestly bittersweet watching the team last year. It was obviously super hard having to watch from the dugout and not being there for your team, especially being injured the way I was,” Florczak said. “Because of the fact that there was no way that I could help the team on the field, I tried to help by talking about the mental side with anyone that was feeling down.”
With the injury, along with the recovery process, came a realization for Florczak.
“I think I realized how much I loved to play softball. Not that I took it for granted for before, but I didn’t understand how much I needed it,” Florczak said. “I think realizing how much I loved the game was my motivation for coming back and getting better.”

“I had to work a lot on the mental side of trusting my foot again, especially with hitting and being able to put weight on it with that back hip.” It took a long time of just trying and hitting again and realizing that I’m not trusting myself yet,” Florczak said
She was tired of waiting, tired of watching. She wanted to play. Here’s another date she can remember–April 5, 2018: her first varsity at bat.

***

She had waited this long for her first varsity at-bat, but she’d have to wait a little longer for her first hit. After a first inning pop up to first base, Florczak broke through for a 2 RBI single in the third inning. Two innings later, Florczak smoked her first high school home run to give LN a 7-0 lead over Speedway.
Florczak wasn’t done there. Since the 3 RBI night against the Sparkplugs Florczak has wasted no time getting her feet wet. She has adding six more home runs on the year and leading the team with 35 runs batted in. Florczak is also among the team leaders in hits, batting average, and on base percentage.
“Her power and concentration is great. It’s impressive that she can hit the better pitchers because she doesn’t have a problem with it or seem to have any fear going against anybody,” Marino said. “I’m really impressed with her fearlessness at the plate.”
Despite her home run hitting capabilities, Florczak has a contrasting mindset when she steps to the plate.
“I would say I’m definitely more of a single base hit kind of hitter. I try and get more balls that are little short line drives that drop in there,” Florczak said. “I would say being in a position with runners on base, my goal is mostly to hit the ball into right field and score the runners in scoring position.”
Not only has Florczak been a force in the lineup, but she has been versatile in the field. Florczak has played, or could play, every position expect pitcher (she pitched as a kid). At any given game this season, she can be found snagging fly balls in center field, or catching fastballs behind the plate.
“She gives us the ability to put players in other spots. We lost two pretty good outfielders last season. She helps us tremendously in that area,” Marino said. “Her impact defensively is almost unmatched and it’s been pretty impressive for a first year player.”

Anna Florczak may bring tremendous statistical value to the softball team, but where Florczak makes an even greater impact doesn’t show up on the box scores or stat sheets. For Marino, Florczak work ethic has rubbed off on the team.
“Her work ethic has has a positive impact on the rest of the team because that kind of stuff rubs off. She works hard in practice and just her attention and focus to the game is what’s important.” Marino said
As for the injury, well that’s yesterday’s news
“It may sound weird to say, but sometimes I don’t even remember that I had an injury. It feels like that was like five years ago because everything is so different now,” Florczak said. “I’m glad that I was able to put that in the back of my mind and not think about it anymore.”

 

 

 

 

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Comeback Kid: The Story of Sophomore Softball Player Anna Florczak