From Staff Reports
Southeast Whitfield High School senior Kara Headrick has been playing softball since she was 4 years old, and her final high school season didn’t go exactly the way that she wanted.
During Southeast’s 2012-13 basketball season, Headrick was injured lifting weights, suffering three herniated discs in her back. She recovered and by summer was in the middle of another standout season with the Georgia Attitude, a select softball travel team, when trouble returned. In the finals of a tournament in Panama City Beach, Fla., the Attitude won a 14-inning marathon as Headrick pitched a complete game.
“From there, it got worse and worse and worse,” Headrick recalled.
She pushed through the pain to play for the Lady Raiders this past fall before she was told by doctors she had to take a break or face the major possibility of a ruptured disc.
“It was hard when they said I had to take four weeks off,” she said. “Your senior year is when a lot of people are looking at you, but I was hurt and I couldn’t play. I played for a good while with the pain, and then I got doctor’s orders to take four weeks off right before region play started. I love softball, and I don’t know what I would do without it. It is one of those things I have done all of my life.”
She will get the chance to keep playing the game after signing a scholarship Friday with Cleveland (Tenn.) State Community College.
“I was looking for a college close to home so I could see my family and still have a college experience,” said Headrick, who also considered Motlow State, Covenant College, Bryan College and Tennessee Temple. “I wanted a smaller college because I didn’t want to go to a big college. Cleveland State is a small college with small class sizes. The teachers were all very nice, and I liked it a lot. I liked it better than any of the other places I visited.”
Headrick will pitch and play first base for the Lady Cougars, who begin their next season Feb. 10 with a doubleheader at home with Alabama’s Gadsden State. Cleveland State, a member of the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association, went 16-25 last season.
Headrick was part of the Attitude as the team won United States Fastpitch Association and American Softball Association state titles in 2012. In her senior season at Southeast, Headrick batted .364 in limited playing time.
Headrick’s injury was one of several the Lady Raiders had to endure — at one point, the school had to reschedule games because of a lack of healthy players.
Headrick said she’ll remember the persistence her team showed in 2013.
“It is just like a family here,” she said. “In softball, no matter how hard it got, we still fought and kept going and trying to win. It was a great atmosphere to be in. It was hard and difficult, but you just keep on trucking. No matter what, you have to go deep in your heart and push through it. I was one of the injuries, and I felt really bad.”
Southeast coach Kelley Barton said she tried to point out the upside to Headrick.
“The injury was tough, and I just tried to remind her that this was not going to be the end for her,” Barton said. “I knew that she would have a chance to go on and play again. I am very, very proud of her. This is what she has waited for and worked so hard for. All of the workouts and all of the tournaments and all of the things she has been through, I am excited that her dream came through for her.”