Lindsay Efflandt is trying to enjoy softball games with her Cary-Grove teammates and vows to return to the pitching circle.
Just when that comeback will be is uncertain, although when it does occur, Efflandt guarantees she will be wearing a protective mask.
The senior right-hander suffered broken bones in her face after being struck by a line drive in April 22’s 3-1 victory against Prairie Ridge. She will not need surgery for the broken bones in her cheek, jaw and sinus wall, but it will take her an indefinite amount of time to return as a pitcher.
“It’s great to be there [in the dugout], but it’s tough because I want to be playing,” Efflandt said. “It could be a lot worse. It reminds me of what the game is about, being there as part of a team.”
Efflandt was pitching a no-hitter at Prairie Ridge when the Wolves’ Kirsten Stevens, a travel softball teammate and close friend of Efflandt’s, hit a shot that Efflandt could not catch or dodge.
She said she never saw the ball.
Efflandt said she currently is not experiencing great pain, but her jaw is still tender, chewing is difficult and she needs to limit her activity to let the bones set properly.
“If I bump it, there could be a problem,” she said. “With any bouncing around, I get a little woozy.”
Efflandt, who will pitch at NCAA Division I Yale, currently is tied for 13th on the state career wins list at 89, according to the IHSA website. Lanark Eastland’s Sarah Martz is first with 102.
“She comes and is a part of the team,” Trojans coach Tammy Olson said. “She wants to be there. She can’t ride the bus because of all the jarring right now. Her swelling is down tremendously.”
Efflandt was able to stay for the whole game Saturday as C-G’s Lauren Stanley pitched in a 2-1 win against Crystal Lake South.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time now,” Efflandt said. “I want to see how everything goes. I’ll definitely be playing again, I’m just not sure when.”
Good as Gold: Huntley’s girls soccer team is 12-2-1 overall and leads the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division at 3-0. Yet Red Raiders coach Kris Grabner hopes Monday is a pivotal day in the players’ lives for another reason.
Huntley’s players will host Heineman Middle School students with District 158’s Gold Program, which benefits students with special needs. At noon, the Raiders will join 21 Heineman students – 13 special needs students and eight others who assist with the program – with three outside activities. Grabner said there will be two games involving soccer skills and another regular game in which his players will interact with the special needs students.
The Gold Program is run by Mark Stahl, whose brother-in-law has special needs. Grabner said Stahl wanted to raise awareness of how special needs people can be funny and should be treated like everyone else.
“At the beginning of the year, [Stahl] and his brother-in-law came in and talked to us,” Grabner said. “I said we would definitely do that. We’re doing a field day, then we’ll have some snacks and have fun with them.”
Grabner feels the experience can be just as beneficial as winning games.
“I hope they get the understanding that [special needs people are] no different than anyone else,” Grabner said. “I hope it’s something our players remember forever and want to continue with that message. When they’re my age, I hope they continue to do something similar to bring awareness.”
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.