A routine base hit up the middle last May in Italy turned into anything but a routine outcome for USSSA Pride third baseman Andrea Duran. The hit, by teammate Hallie Wilson, led Duran to round third base and encounter it: the first major injury of her 20-year softball career.
It was a Lisfranc ligament tear, otherwise known as a midfoot injury, doctors said, requiring the 2008 Olympic silver medalist to miss the entire 2016 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) season. And when Pride general manager Don DeDonatis spoke to the team after Duran’s injury, it felt an awful lot like the future of her playing career was uncertain.
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“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,” DeDonatis said. “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.”
But for Duran, who turns 33 in April, her softball career has not yet reached its final chapter. The NPF veteran made a full recovery from her foot injury, and now says she will be ready to rejoin the Pride at full strength for the 2017 season.
“My recovery went great,” Duran told Excelle Sports. “It was slow in the beginning, but now I feel like I am pretty much back to normal. I am able to do all the activities that I did before the injury.”
That fact should be worrisome for the Pride’s foes heading into the 2017 campaign. Duran, who has been with USSSA since the beginning of her NPF career in 2010, was the 2014 NPF Player of the Year and has consistently been one of the league’s best players during her professional tenure. She’s also been instrumental in leading the Pride to three NPF titles during that time, anchoring the heart of USSSA’s lineup with 24 career home runs and nearly 100 RBI.
Despite missing a full NPF season of play, Duran says the injury was a blessing in disguise for her. Before it, she had been questioning whether or not her playing career had run its course.
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“When the injury happened, it gave me a really different perspective,” said Duran, a former NFCA All-American and two-time national champion at UCLA. “I missed playing a lot, especially because I had to sit at home all summer and watch my team play online and on TV. I realized that I was not ready to be done yet.”
With softball’s re-admission into the Olympic program for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Duran’s unwillingness to hang up her cleats could also mean another shot at an Olympic gold with Team USA. While she’s still unsure if she’ll compete for a spot on the 2020 roster, the looming memory of the 2008 Games is making that possibility greater.
“I haven’t totally ruled it out because we lost in 2008,” Duran said about the USA team that fell to Japan in the gold-medal game in Beijing. “I would love to help bring the gold medal back to the U.S., but it will ultimately depend on my body and how it feels.”
For now, though, Duran is focused on the NPF season ahead and her chance to once again take the field with the Pride.
“I am really looking forward to it,” Duran added. “As long as I am still having fun and still able to compete at my best I will continue to play.”