March 26, 2014, TOWSON, Md. (ISN) – That junior pitcher Missy McCormick is leading the Towson University softball team in wins (seven) this season shouldn’t come as much of a shock. She’d won 11 games with 94 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.93 in her two previous seasons.
There may, however, be a few people who are surprised with the offensive numbers that she is putting up this year.
You can rest assured that McCormick is not one of them.
Through Towson’s first 27 games, McCormick leads the club with seven home runs and 36 RBIs, while hitting .280. Not bad, considering that prior to this season, McCormick only had 11 career at-bats with one base hit.
“I told myself that there would be one year that I’d get a chance, that I’d actually keep hitting and do really well,” said McCormick. “Even coming back from surgery last year, I told myself that I really needed to earn my spot in the lineup.”
Indeed, McCormick has become a staple in the cleanup spot in the Towson batting order, which is producing 6.4 runs per contest this year. That is nearly double the 3.6 runs the team averaged last year.
“We’ve been scoring a lot of runs,” said McCormick. “We’ve been hitting really well and making sure we don’t leave anyone in scoring position. It’s a completely different team.”
Still, it takes a lot of moxie to believe you can do something when the record suggests you can’t. Then again, the 5-foot-3 Las Vegas native is approaching this season and the rest of her softball career like a gambler playing with the house’s money.
That’s because her softball career, which began when she was three years old, nearly ended after last season.
McCormick suffered a serious ankle injury last year. After evaluation by her doctors, they suggested that she stop playing.
McCormick wanted to keep going.
“I didn’t want to hurt my last years of playing,” said McCormick. “I didn’t want to give any (playing time) up, so I did whatever I could. I thought that was the best decision at that time.”
McCormick had the recommended surgery, but the damage seemed so extensive that it appeared that she might not be able to play again.
“Softball is all I’ve ever known my entire life, so when it was taken away in a matter of one fly ball, I felt like I had nothing, that my world had just stopped,” said McCormick. “When that was gone, I knew I had to do whatever I could to get it back.”
The “whatever” was tricky, as the rehab from the surgery restricted what McCormick could do.
For instance, because the injured ankle was the one that she pushed and drove off, McCormick could only do stationary pitching once she got rid of the crutches. She only started pitching from a mound in late December.
McCormick’s success at the plate is equally remarkable. She couldn’t swing a bat until January, and didn’t see live pitching until after that. McCormick said she tried to stay sharp by working out to strengthen her core, while swinging at a ball on a tee while sitting on a bucket.
McCormick finally got clearance to play a couple of months ago, but that only took care of the physical part of the comeback.
Next was the most important part of the return. She wanted to prove to herself that she could not only get back into form, but do so without having to worry about risking confidence if she struggled.
“When I got through it and I found myself in the lineup that first weekend, I knew that no matter what I did, I had to give it everything I had because I wasn’t even guaranteed this opportunity,” said McCormick. “I don’t know. I just did what I could.”
McCormick’s recovery is even more impressive when you consider that she’s done it with her family and support system being more than 2,500 miles away, meaning she’s had to be tough virtually alone.
“I felt like there was nothing that I couldn’t overcome,” said McCormick. “I feel like I’m so much more mentally stronger now that I’ve had to persevere through such a potentially career-ending injury. I feel just mentally strong.”
McCormick says she wants to be a Secret Service agent someday. Given the odds she’s already beaten this season alone, you wouldn’t want to bet against her.