“When she got hurt, it was like we all got hurt,” second baseman Martina McGee said.
“It was actually horrible,” center fielder Sam Vradenburg said. “It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. I tried not to cry, but then I cried. I cried a lot. And then everyone just followed.”
Park Ridge‘s junior ace and cleanup hitter, who led the Owls to 11 wins in their first 12 games, made her triumphant return to the mound last week — exactly two weeks after the traumatic injury. She received “too many stitches to count” and suffered a pair of black eyes, but considers herself lucky and blessed because she knows it could have been much worse.
After Park Ridge struggled in her absence (two wins in six games), Kline and the Owls are 3-1 since her return.
“The first game back was a little nerve-racking since I wasn’t used to playing, but now I’m starting to get back in the swing of things,” said Kline, who received an outpouring of thoughts and prayers from the North Jersey softball community via Twitter once word of the injury got out.
“The support I received from everyone was amazing. It was like the whole community came together, and it was really nice to see the support and prayers going out to me.”
Kline, who says she’ll never pitch without a mask again, hasn’t been part of the Park Ridge softball program very long. She transferred from rival Midland Park this year, but it’s hard to tell from the way her new teammates interact with her.
It’s as if Kline has been a part of #PROnation — Park Ridge‘s unofficial Twitter slogan and rallying cry — her entire high school career.
“It was such a great transition for her when she got here,” coach Cindy Turner said. “She’s such a great kid, one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet, and you really can’t say one bad thing about her. I’m so happy for her to be able to overcome such a traumatic thing and get through a difficult time for her and her family.”
While Kline was out, Park Ridge lost out on a potential league title and was bounced from the Bergen County tournament by Mahwah in the first round. The Owls are now focused on making a deep run in the state tournament, where Kline could meet Midland Park at some point.
“It’s always hard watching and not being out there,” Kline said. “It seemed like the mood of the team went down, but now we’re starting to get it all back. We’re coming together toward the end. These girls, we have it in us to make a run. It’s all coming back together now.”