Unbreakable spirit: A baseball player’s year-long recovery

Victoria Devils 94 headed to the Canadian Fastpitch Open

Not only did Sarah Bodine make the catch, she never dropped the ball.

It was the first game of the 2010 Bantam Girls Fastpitch Canadian Championship held in View Royal last July.

Bodine, who recently finished Grade 11 at St. Michaels University School, was playing first base for the Victoria Devils 94. She chased down a foul ball and caught it, but broke her leg in two places when she collided awkwardly with the catcher. The bang-up resulted in major fractures to Bodine’s tibia and fibula.

The nurse told her if the breaks were any more severe, the tendon damage would’ve been beyond repair. Bodine narrowly avoided amputation.

A year later Bodine is back, a tumultuos journey behind her. But new challenges lie ahead.

Her Devils, a midget team (16-18) all born in 1994, are at the Canadian Open, playing in the U19 Futures Gold division. The first game is Tuesday, July 12.

Playing in the Futures Gold is a coup for his team, said coach Bruce Lubinich. However, the tourney is more about experience than winning. He isn’t counting his team out, but the opposition is not only elite but players are also up to three years older. The coach wants his team to keep their expectations realistic.

As for Bodine’s presence on first base, it’s a boon, he said.

“The big thing with having Bodine back is she’s not only an excellent ball player, but someone who keeps the team together on the field and in the game.

“Her energy is amazingly huge, she gets everybody going and it’s tough to not have one of those types of players on your team.”

At the time of her injury Bodine had no idea how long she would be out. She lay field-side in a state of shock before going to the hospital an hour later. The team played on and eventually finished fourth.

Lubinich thinks Bodine’s injury had a lot to do with losing that game, and the team’s overall performance at last year’s nationals.

“There were about five teams, any of which could have won on a given day,” he said.

“We were rolling along (in the first game) up until Bodine’s injury, and I think the team had a hard time recovering from it. They were so concerned with her health.”

Bodine’s return is a grand achievement. The 16-year-old could easily have given up sports, as it is still early in her recovery. She was also lucky the titanium rod in her leg didn’t stunt her leg’s growth, although the injured leg is now two inches longer than the other.

During the recuperation Bodine lost 35 pounds (16 kilograms) to muscle atrophy in her lower body.

It took her five months to walk, which she had to re-learn, and another two more before she could run.

“I still can’t run well but I feel comfortable enough running the bases. Although, my mom says I look ridiculous,” Bodine said.

To start the season Bodine was limited to a few innings at a time, but is now able to string together three games in a row before needing a rest. 

It’s been a long year, an eye-opener and a time of spiritual growth. To be back with the team means a lot more to Bodine than just playing baseball again.

“It was a mental injury. Dealing with it was all (upstairs). It brought me to where I’m at now, who I am, with a lot of faith in God.”

Following the Canadian Open, the Devils 94 will challenge for the provincial title in Cloverdale. A top-three finish qualifies the team for the 2011 nationals in Winnipeg.

Canada cupped

Three Victoria teams are attending the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championships (formerly the Canada Cup) in Surrey, July 9-17.

The Strawberry Vale Stealth are competing in the Showcase Select (16U) International Championship. The 1993-born Victoria Devils will play in Pool A of the 27-team Futures Gold U19 division.

Lambrick Park’s Mackenzie Smith, who recently made a verbal commitment to Stanford University for 2012, is hoping to make the final cut today (July 8) with Canada’s national junior fastpitch team.

Should the 6-foot-2 pitcher be released, she’ll return to the Devils 94, bolstering her team’s chances in the Canadian Open.

sports@vicnews.com