Patton determined to play despite pain
The whispers started shortly after Chelsea Patton showed up at Basehor-Linwood High School with her right arm in a sling.
"What's wrong with Chelsea's arm?"
"Is Chelsea going to be able to play with her shoulder?"
It was the middle of basketball season, but the whispers were rarely about basketball. Sure, it would have been nice to have the sophomore available on the hardwood, but most people were more concerned about her status on the softball diamond.
Well, rest easy. As long as Patton's arm is connected to the rest of her body, she plans on playing softball this year. Just weeks after having shoulder surgery, the sling is gone and Patton is working out in preseason practices. But that doesn't mean her shoulder is totally fine, or even mostly fine.
"Actually there's a lot of pain," Patton said. "But it's something I'm willing to play with."
That's good news for the Lady 'Cats and their fans. If they're going to make a return trip to state this year, Patton will probably have to be a part of it. The all-league sophomore batted third in the lineup last year and was the Lady 'Cats regular second baseman. She hit .277 with three home runs, 12 RBI and 21 runs scored.
Patton was one of the heroines of last year's playoffs, hitting a homer in the ninth inning of the regional semifinals that tied the game and kept the state run alive. Among all her stats and big hits, though, it's Patton's intangibles that might be most important to the Lady Bobcats.
"Her hard work, her drive and her love of the game is huge for us," BLHS coach Susan Mayberry said.
Love of the game is a big reason Patton is still out there practicing in the cold, despite her sore shoulder. She's doing physical therapy to help her throwing, and got a little more medical help over spring break. She received a nerve block shot that temporarily deadened her arm and hopefully will dull the pain in the long run.
As a second baseman, Patton at least won't be expected to make a lot of long throws. But she will have to occasionally cut off throws from the outfield and then hurl them in to home plate or third base. Those are the throws that are really going to give her shoulder a twinge, but she hopes it won't affect her arm strength too much.
"I'm doing everything I can to get it back where it was," Patton said.
Though Mayberry expects Patton to be ready, as a coach she has to hope for the best and plan for the worst. Fortunately, BLHS is deep this year and there are players who could fill in if Patton needs a break at second.
"She's going to hit and I think she's going to play defense," Mayberry said. "She'll be there, she's just that kind of determined individual. I know she's going through some frustrations, but she's getting better. Of course we've got people working there because she's not full strength yet. You always need to have a backup plan at all your positions."
The backup plan is in place, but at this point it looks like it won't be necessary. Chelsea Patton's arm is still connected to her shoulder, so when the first pitch is thrown, you can bet she'll be on the field.