Lavine returns from her March ACL tear
Senior outfielder Alex Lavine pinch hit for Courtney Rodriguez and scored in the fourth inning during the first game of a doubleheader at Hillenbrand Stadium on Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats won 13-3 in five innings.
In shocking fashion, Arizona softball senior outfielder Alex Lavine returned to the field yesterday just seven weeks after tearing the ACL in her left knee.
“It’s really nice,” Lavine said. “It kind of feels like I never left. It was really exciting, and I got really emotional.”
Lavine initially tore her ACL on March 4 on a routine fly ball in center field, and it was announced just two days later that she would be out for the season. Since she had played in only 19 games before the injury, the plan was for Lavine to apply for a medical redshirt.
However, Lavine said her knee had responded well to treatment, and she was cleared to return to game action this week.
“I was doing a lot of rehab, squats, jumps and anything that made me go in an uncomfortable position for my knee,” Lavine said. “I just had to make everything around my ACL a lot stronger, and I slowly got into throwing again, hitting, and I got cleared for a full practice last week and was back this week.”
As the crowd erupted, Lavine made her return by pinch hitting in the fourth inning of the first game of the doubleheader, and she didn’t appear tentative at all. After reaching first base on an infield hit, she showcased some of her hustle by advancing from second to third on a sacrifice fly and scoring a run from third just a few pitches later.
Her teammates took notice and joined the crowd in an even louder round of applause than the first as she returned to the dugout.
To make her comeback even more impressive, Lavine played center field for the remainder of the first game and ran fluidly.
“She works so darn hard, and it’s fun to see her back in uniform, and hopefully we’ll continue to make some progress,” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “You just tell her she can’t do something and she will. If there’s anyone that can come back, I knew it would be her.”
Candrea said he wants to wait and see how much progress she makes but that just having her presence in the dugout is crucial for the team.
Arizona has nine remaining games, with six of those coming at home, and it will need all the help it can get with tough series against Washington and Oregon looming.
Adding Lavine to the mix could be the kick-starter the Wildcats need to finish the regular season strong and prepare for postseason play. Lavine said she doesn’t have any playing limitations, and she’s willing to do anything to help the team win.
Her teammates said they’re excited to have Lavine back and that it’s an inspiration to have her in the dugout so soon after injury.
“She’s been pushing really hard to get back on the field,” sophomore infielder Lauren Young said. “It’s pretty amazing what she’s been doing. … It’s just incredible.”
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555