By Nate Thompson
FRUITPORT — Brooklyn Samlow didn’t realize how much softball meant to her, until it was taken away.
It meant she would miss the entire season and have to endure through physical therapy to ensure she could someday play again at 100 percent.
“I fell and landed on it and right away I could feel it hurt really bad,” said Samlow, a junior. “I don’t remember too much after that. I think I kind of blacked out.
“It was really hard realizing that I couldn’t play,” she said. “But my team backed me up. They kept on telling me that I’d be back and I’d still have two more years to play. Listening to (their encouragement) made it easier for me.”
Although throwing was completely out of the question, Samlow eventually got permission from her doctors to lightly swing a bat. To make the most out of a tough situation, Samlow put in a lot of work hitting on a tee.
“I started out with just one-handed hitting, but once I got my body back, I did some light swinging,” she said.
Samlow did a no-no late in her rehabilitation and went against her doctor’s recommendation and began throwing.
“My physical therapist told me I was cleared but my doctor said I wasn’t ready, so It was like, ‘What do I do?’ So I just did some throwing at home, so nobody could catch me. But doing that made me take a step back (in recovering).”
“That shows you how much she loves the game,” said Fruitport softball coach Bob Dorman. “I know for her being out all of last year, it was devastating for her.”
Samlow never wavered in her comeback attempt, partially because she had inspiration within her own family. Her older sister Hannah, who tore her ACL during her senior season, battled back to play in her team’s final few games.
Samlow received the green light to resume softball-related activities this spring, made the varsity roster, and blossomed in the sport. She’s hitting over .500 this season with five home runs.
“We haven’t had a girl hit .500 here in awhile,” Dorman said. “I know I don’t want to be in front of her when she’s at-bat. She’s an aggressive hitter. And she’s always been a very strong girl.”
Samlow, who is used primarily as the Trojans’ designated player, said connecting on her first home run of the season opened her eyes.
“I hit my first home run at our first tournament and it made me realize how far I’ve come (since the injury),” she said. “It was like, ‘hey, I can really do this.’ It feels good to be a big part of the team.”
Fruitport enters Division 2 district play on Saturday with a 23-15 record. The Trojans will battle arch-rival Spring Lake in the semifinals at noon at Spring Lake High School.
The Trojans have struggled down the stretch, but to their credit, it’s been against quality competition, including Oakridge, Grand Haven, and the favorite in their district, Spring Lake.
“Against Grand Haven, we were tied halfway through in the second game of our doubleheader, but they pulled away at the end,” Dorman said. “The girls walked off that field and knew they can compete against teams like that. Now we have to use it as momentum.”
Dorman said when the Trojans are hitting 1 through 9 in the lineup, they’re extremely dangerous.
“But we’ve only done that a couple times this season,” Dorman said. “When it does, we’re one of the toughest teams to beat.”
To have a chance at upsetting the Lakes 8 Conference champion Lakers in districts, Dorman said the Trojans will need contributions at the plate from Alexis Juergens, Katie Veihl, Sammy Hockstra, and Aurora Wilks, each of whom are hitting over .400 this season.