Published 12:03 am Thursday, May 9, 2013
Monday was a good day for Emily Byrd.
It may have been the best day of the season for the Pleasant Home senior.
Byrd, who had surgery to replace torn cartilage in her right wrist in late January, was cleared to play softball on Monday, just in time for this weekend’s Class 1A South Regional Softball Tournament in Gulf Shores.
While Monday was full of appointments, the news she had been waiting for all season came at the best time, Byrd said.
“By the time I got released, it was all good,” she said.
In fact, the senior stand out, who could make her first appearance on the mound this weekend, said it was a big “relief.”
“It was a big relief for (the team), too,” PHS senior catcher Ashley Copeland said.
The only thing Byrd said she could do while watching her team this season was be a big support for her teammates.
“It was hard because I wish I could do something to stay a part of the team,” she said. “The only thing I could do was cheer them on.”
“She kept us up,” Copeland added.
Byrd said her rehab lasted more than three months, and has been pitching for more than four weeks.
The senior said she’s anxious to get back on the playing field.
“I guess I should be nervous, but I’m not,” Byrd said. “I’m just ready to play. I feel like I’ve been able to pitch for about four weeks now, so I’m ready to go.”
Byrd added that her wrist gets better every time she pitches.
Her command was evident even in her warmups before practice on Wednesday.
“Every time I pitch, things get better,” Byrd said. “That’s why I feel like everything will be back to normal.”
Monday’s good news couldn’t have come at a better time for the Lady Eagles, PHS coach Bradley Stephens said.
“Nobody’s seen (Byrd),” he said. “We’ll just see what she can do.”
When asked whether the ace pitcher will start, Stephens said it’s a big “question mark.”
PHS will face former area foe Brantley in its first round game of the winner’s bracket, where teams only need three wins to secure a spot at the state tournament in Montgomery.
The winner of the winner’s bracket and the winner of the loser’s bracket advance.
Stephens said the new tournament format forces teams to play less games.
“Softball is one of those sports that honestly, anything can happen,” he said. “The team out of the loser’s bracket can beat the team out of the winner’s bracket twice. It happened to us last year at state.
“That’s just one of those things they’re taking away,” he said. “There are a lot of schools that may not have ever won a regional champoinship and not get a chance.”
The Lady Eagles played Brantley twice and have lost in both contests this season. PHS fell by five in the first game, and by two in the second.
“Coach (Cindy) Hawthorne does a good job with them,” Stephens said. “They’re going to hit the ball. We’ve just got to get ready and get going.”
When asked what they hope to accomplish from here on out, Stephens said the team’s answer has always been a state championship.
“That goal has never changed,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of adversity. These girls have persevered and when I say persevered, they’ve played a tougher schedule than normal this year. They’ve had to persevere through a lot of injuries, and had a lot of younger kids to step up. It sets the tone for a bright future.”
Copeland, who was receiving warmup pitches from Byrd, said the same thing about wanting to win a blue map.
“It’s our time to win,” she said.
The Lady Eagles get started at 8 a.m. tomorrow at the Gulf Shores Sports Complex.