La Plata sophomore Carrie Higdon started this season with a partially torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder, an injury that prevented her from throwing the ball overhand.
It seems to have done nothing, however, to slow her bat.
Higdon cracked her second inside-the-park home run of the season to lead off the seventh inning at Westlake on Monday, giving La Plata a cushion in a 2-0 victory. Higdon sent the pitch from Wolverine sophomore Megan Barrows over the head of left fielder Christine Shipyan, and once it landed it kept rolling.
The combination of a dry outfield and no outfield fence kept the ball rolling. Higdon, who began the season as a designated hitter before moving to first base, was already crossing home plate when the throw from Shipyan reached the cutoff at third base.
Slated as a starting pitcher in the preseason, Higdon was cleared last Thursday to begin working the shoulder from the mound.
"It was right down the middle, waist-high, and pretty much as soon as I hit it, I knew I had gotten all of it," said Higdon, whose first home run this year, at Patuxent, also rolled well past the outfield. "And then it just kept rolling. Coach [Tony Jones] had me nervous for a minute because he was pointing at third and I thought he wanted me to stop or even slide, but then he waved me on."
Higdon's shot left Westlake (2-6) needing two runs in the bottom of the seventh to push the game into extra innings, an overwhelming task for a team that managed just one hit off La Plata freshman Karri Reeves. Reeves walked one and struck out five, two of them in Westlake's final at-bat.
"One hit and no runs about says it all," Wolverines Coach Mike Shugars said. "We've just got no bats right now. The only one we have hitting the ball consistently is [first baseman] Danielle Sturman. And that's not enough. You can take all these other little hits we're making to the infield and put them together and the ball still won't go very far."
La Plata (5-2), which has won four straight, had five hits from five batters, including an RBI single by third baseman Tracey Webster in the third that scored shortstop Lindsay Preuss. The Warriors also drew four walks and had four others reach base on uncharacteristic Westlake errors, but all eight base runners were left stranded.
"You've got to get a couple or three runs in this league to do anything, and we were able to do that," Jones said. "But it wasn't always pretty. We had a couple of key bunts that we weren't able to lay down and that can be a killer. We worked so hard on it indoors last week, but I guess we're going to have to keep working on it. In this league you have to be able to move runners more effectively than we did out here today."
La Plata had no such trouble in the field. Second baseman Melissa Cheseldine made a terrific backhanded grab in the fourth inning, and the rest of the Warriors' infielders -- Higdon, Preuss and Webster -- were flawless.
"Our infield defense just looked great today," Jones said. "Melissa made a couple of great stops. Lindsay, as always, looked good. Tracey played very well. And Carrie, she's such a bonus at first. Now that she's cleared, we'll start working her into the pitching rotation, too, but I do like her at first. To think that she couldn't even throw the ball at all a couple of weeks ago, what she's doing now is amazing."