by Colin Beltz
In a season where the Concordia Women‚s Softball Team is turning some heads, Stacey Hoien‚s overall performance has a lot of people scratching theirs.
Hoien, a senior, has been dominating the MIAC with a 6-2 record on the mound, while leading the league in hitting with a .559 average.
Amazing? Yes. However, unbelievable may be a better adjective to describe Hoien‚s season, especially since last year at this time she was in a hospital bed sidelined with a broken leg she sustained in a game against NDSU last April.
That day, Hoien was playing center field. The batter hit a short fly ball, and Hoien came running in.
Unfortunately, so did the shortstop.
Hoien and the shortstop collided as both made a concerted effort for the ball The teammate‚s shoulder squarely hit hoien‚s left leg as she fell to the ground.
„I knew something was wrong,š Hoien said. „I didn‚t know what, but [my leg] was pointing in different directions.š
She broke both her fibula and tibia in six places.
„I was just depressed,š she said after learning about her injury. „It was a shocker. I had worked really hard to get ready for the season. You always think it‚s going to happen to someone else.š
Her head coach, Steve Baumgartner, also had a hard time facing the fact that one of his best players was out for the season.
„I‚d never seen anything like it,š he said. „I din‚t know what to do. I asked myself, „Why did I put her center field?š And I never second-guess myself.š
Her loss was a severe blow to the team. If they had Hoien last year, Baumgartner said Concordia could have won as many as 10 more games.
„We still had good pitchers with Lynn [Iverson] and Julie [Campion]," he said. „But when you lose the ace of the lineup, it doesn‚t look good down the stretch.š
Surgery followed for Hoien as a metal rod was placed in the tibia. Then the process of rehabilitation had to begin.
„[The doctors] kept telling me I probably wouldn‚t be playing next year,š Hoien said. „I just kept myself motivated to get back for this year.š
Early on, the possibility for a comeback next season was not encouraging.
„I talked to her early into the rehab, and she was a little depressed,š Baumgartner said. „She couldn‚t do very much.š
The long time away from softball took its toll on Hoien, who said she had played the sports for as long as she could remember.
„It drove me nuts,š Hoien said. „It was hard watching games, even baseball.š
Hoien worked hard during the summer to try to be ready for the fall.
Through the fall, she was in rehab and was able to start throwing.
„I couldn‚t run at all. I had to get my muscles back together and do strengthening and weightlifting,š she said.
The results of her hard work were beginning to get noticed.
„When I saw her in the fall,š Baumgartner said, „I just smiled, and said maybe there was a chance.š
That was then, and now the break has fully healed. The metal rod will be taken out in May.
„I think if you asked some of her doctors, they‚d be amazed to see she is playing,š said Baumgartner. „She is just an inspiration to everyone on the team.š
Many players coming off such a severe injury would be happy to just play again.
However, Hoien is not just any other player.
„My goal was to be back where I was in my sophomore year,š she said. „I‚m really happy where I am.š Hoien has contributed since her first year with the Cobbers. That year she finished with a 10-4 record while hitting .304.
In her sophomore season, she improved her batting average to .408 and earned nine of the team‚s 14 victories in 1994. She also made her first appearance on the All-MIAC team.
She played just four games last season before getting injured.
This season, she has gotten off to another terrific start. She is fifth in the MIAC with a 1.38 earned run average, along with leading the conference in hitting. Hoien also is tops in the doubles category with seven two-baggers. Her statistical output has shown there are few lasting effects from her surgery a year ago.
„I still can‚t run as fast anymore,š she said. „That‚s because of the rod. Once it‚s removed, it will get better.š „I just try not to let it affect meš she said. „I try to ignore it until I‚m done playing.
One thing is for sure: she won‚t be playing center field.
„Coach doesn‚t want me out in the field,š she said with a laugh. „He doesn‚t want to risk it anymore.š All in all, Hoien is happy where her level of play is right now.
So is the rest of the team. With her return, Concordia is having its best year ever as they are currently in third place in the MIAC with an 8-3 record, 10-9 overall.
„I think we work well together. We‚re a good hitting team and we play together really well,š said Hoien.
„Everyone wants to win the conference, especially me. I think we can do it.š
As far as future plans, the physical education and health major will come back to student teach in the fall, which she would have done last year.
However, if not for the injury, she would not have realized how much she really loves the game of softball. „You don‚t realize how much you take for granted,š she said. „You have to play hard all the time, because you never know when it‚s going to stop.
1996 Box Scores
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