Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mu Hurler Won't Allow Pain to Get in the Way

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mu Hurler Won't Allow Pain to Get in the Way

Article excerpt

Imagine being a freshman pitcher at the University of Missouri, one of the better softball schools in the country. Imagine making your fourth career start in front of 1,300 people against the nation's No. 6 team. Imagine winning that game.

That's pretty good, but there's more.

Imagine pitching that game with a hand that looks more like the Pillsbury dough boy's than a human's. Imagine looking down at your hand and seeing a different shade of blue each inning.

All that happened to Stephanie Walston. It's not a big deal, though, to her.

"She didn't moan. She didn't complain," Mizzou softball coach Jay Miller said. "She just gutted up and did the job."

The bluish right hand, which after one recent practice was about 40 percent bigger than her left hand, is the least of Walston's physical concerns. It could be related to her shoulder problems.

How many people have an arm that pops out of the shoulder socket? And how many routinely push it back in, shrug it off and then step back on the pitcher's rubber? Not many.

A few outings later Walston couldn't get the arm and shoulder back in harmony on her own. She called the catcher, Dawn Dugan, out to the mound and told her what to do. Dugan performed the task, but Walston remembers thinking that Dugan looked as if she'd just been sucking on lemons.

Before the hand and the shoulder problems, Walston was on her way to being Mizzou's No. 2 pitcher. She was 3-1, including that victory against No. 6 Southwest Louisiana.

Then during Mizzou's trip to Arizona, Walston's shoulders began acting up. Her right arm began to pop out of her shoulder whenever she used it. Her left shoulder wasn't quite that bad, but it wasn't in good shape either. Walston would pick up her equipment bag. Pop. Walston would pitch a softball. Pop.

"It pops in and out of socket all the time. I have to put it back in," Walston said. "I have a really high pain tolerance. It doesn't seem to faze me. I want to keep pitching."

For Walston, that might be the toughest part of being hurt. …

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