By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
NETTLETON – When Nettleton opens its MHSAA Class 3A state fastpitch quarterfinals series against Winona tonight, MariAnna Young will be ready, torn ACL and all.
Nettleton’s junior ace was scrambling back to first base after a single against Mooreville in early April. Her leg didn’t make it back as fast as the rest of her.
“It’s completely torn. She’s just a gamer,” Nettleton coach Dana Rhea said. “When she tore it at Mooreville, she brought tears to my eyes. She said, ‘I’m going to get up and I’m going to pitch.’”
Young stood up, but crumpled to the ground, unable to walk, much less pitch. Her leg turned a way it isn’t intended to turn and she was helped off the field.
An MRI the next day confirmed she had torn her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The junior missed the next five games, with Katibeth Finney, the Lady Tigers sophomore JV starter filling in well. But Young decided to tough it out, the ligament as damaged as it can be. She wears a brace as tight as it will go and can go as far as her pain threshold will allow.
“I wanted to finish the season,” Young said. “I don’t feel like I’m back to full strength, but I think I’m getting there.”
Young, who throws a rise, drop, curve, screwball and a change-up, pitched four innings of a crucial 15-14 comeback win against Mantachie and the Game 1 win against South Pontotoc over the weekend.
The righty plans to keep playing even after the season, postponing surgery until after the junior all-star game on June 8 at Jones JC.
Nettleton has won 10 straight games, is 14-1 at home and is trying to get to its sixth straight state championship series – three straight championships prior to last season.
“I try to keep my brace on as tight as I can, where it won’t move around, but if I ever move it the wrong way or step on it the wrong way, I can feel it move,” Young said.
“It’s a pain, but it goes away real quick.”