Kissimmee, FL – February 23, 2017- Things were looking great for USSSA last May. For the very first time, the USSSA Pride would be touring Italy in a historical run of the premier “Italian Pro Series” featuring four exhibition games against the top ranked Italian Women’s National Softball Team.
It was definitely a high point for USSSA, but bittersweet for USSSA Pride third baseman, Andrea Duran, who left the experience in Italy with her first major career injury.
“It was the second game in Italy and I was trying to score from second after Hallie [Wilson], got a base hit up the middle. I hit third past Megan Willis who was coaching first, when I hit some unstable dirt and my foot slipped and turned and I immediately felt pins and needles,” recalled Duran of the moment. “I was about half way to home plate so I decided to still try and score but when I took the next step with the injured foot I knew something wasn't right.”
At the time, Andrea wasn’t sure she would miss the 2016 season but when the results came back, Duran found out she had torn her Lis Franc ligament and would be out for 6-8 weeks. After speaking with the team doctors and Pride staff, it soon became clear that she wouldn’t be able to play immediately if at all that summer.
“It was definitely hard to hear and hard to go through because it was my first major injury in over 20 years of playing, but the doctors didn’t think I needed surgery and they decided to let it heal on its own.”
Lucky for Duran, it was only a severe sprain but recovery was slow since she decided to forego surgery and heal naturally. The recovery process began with PRP (Platelet-rich plasma) therapy where blood is drawn from the patient, that blood is then transferred to a platelet which is spun very quickly in a machine called a centrifuge to separate the plasma rich cells which are then injected to the affected area to help with the natural healing process.
It wasn’t until June, a few days before they left for their first series in Houston, that Duran formally announced her decision to sit out the 2016 season to all of her teammates during the USSSA Pride’s annual team dinner.
General Manager Don DeDonatis spoke to the team following Duran’s announcement to commemorate the impact she’s had on the team since she joined back in 2010.
“Thank you for all you’ve done for this organization because it’s been special, you’ve been the mainstay of this team for six years, you did what we asked you to do and unfortunately injuries happen, that’s just the way it is, but we just pull for each other and go out there for each other.”
For most Pride fans it was difficult to grasp the idea that one of their favorite Pride players was out for the season and quickly started to notice the absence of one of the Pride’s key players. A seasoned player who has been one of the few who has donned a Pride jersey for their entire NPF career.
A career full of accolades and esteem ranging from back-to-back NCAA national titles with UCLA (2003 & 2004) to Olympic glory with Team USA in 2008 and 3 NPF Championship titles (2010, 2013, 2014).
Although Duran wasn’t able to play in 2016, she’s been working hard to get back in top shape. Starting physical therapy in July and ending in October before heading back to the gym to start low impact running, conditioning and lifting. From there Duran progressed into simple exercises she was comfortable with that didn’t distress her foot. She then started doing buildup sprints while still working on sprints and acceleration. Finally she has started hitting and throwing and the next step is getting comfortable with the change of direction but so far Duran can comfortably jump, lift, throw, hit and run.
As far as 2017 goes, Duran is looking forward to getting back on the diamond in pursuit of the USSSA Pride’s fourth NPF Championship. It was difficult for Andrea to sit on the sidelines watching her teammates compete but she’s looking forward to this summer and most fans will agree that they are looking forward to seeing Duran back on the field doing what she does best in 2017.
“We have some unfinished business this season and I’m looking forward to contributing to the team in any way I can. Getting injured was really hard, but it also gave me really great perspective on the game. I realized how much I still love this sport and it taught me a different outlook that I am thankful for and one that I probably wouldn't have realized if I hadn't gotten hurt.”
Tune in next week for a follow up interview with Andrea Duran, who will be interviewed by USSSA’s own digital media reporter Jade Smith during an episode of #AskthePride. Send in your questions using the hashtag #AskthePride and you can be featured on next week’s episode!
The USSSA Pride kick-off the 2017 season on June 8th where they will take on the Akron Racers in their home opener at USSSA Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL.
Follow your Pride all season long on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About USSSA Florida Pride: The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
About USSSA: USSSA is headquartered in Osceola County, Florida. USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA.
About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF): National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2002, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in diamond sports beyond their collegiate success. The 2016 NPF season will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Coverage includes the NPF College Draft presented by Bownet on Thur., April 14, followed by 23 regular-season games, a Championship Series Preview Special and the 2016 NPF Championship Series. The NPF recently announced that the Scrap Yard Dawgs, located in The Woodlands, Texas, will join the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Dallas Charge, Pennsylvania Rebellion and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2016 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand, representing the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.