Allison Meadows, 16, a sophomore at Silverdale Baptist Academy who was stabbed while shopping at a Target store in Pittsburgh, Pa., in March, fields the ball during softball practice Wednesday in Chattanooga. Meadows says she is excited to be recovered and back playing softball again.Photo by Doug Strickland.
Silverdale Baptist Academy sophomore Allison Meadows was back in her favorite environment Tuesday.
Never mind that she grounded out in her first at-bat. And unfortunately for the Lady Seahawks, Boyd-Buchanan edged them 7-6 in the District 5-A high school softball game.
The true triumph is that Meadows, who was a stabbing victim at a Target store March 25 in Pittsburgh, when she and her family were visiting other family members during her spring break, was back on a softball field again.
Meadows suffered a punctured lung along with cuts on her right arm during the incident. It wasn't until doctors talked to her in the emergency trauma room at Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital the night of the stabbing, right before she was about to go into surgery, that she felt reassured her wounds weren't life-threatening.
Silverdale softball coach Tim Couch said it was good to see such far-reaching support for Meadows. Her teammates were among them.
"They were great," Meadows said. "They texted me constantly -- all of them did. They kept me up to date with what was going on."
But Meadows' first thoughts about softball while still in the hospital were clouded with uncertainty. Would she be able to play again? If so, how long would she be out?
Early reports indicated that doctors in Pittsburgh speculated Meadows could play again but would need about four weeks to recuperate. That meant a possible return around district-tournament time, maybe late in the regular season.
She was able to cut that recovery time in half.
"It didn't surprise me she came back like that, knowing the competitor she is," Couch said. "That's just Allison. I think her will to get better pushed her more than it would for most kids."
Meadows was released from the hospital in Pittburgh on a Thursday. She was back at Silverdale the following Monday, after spring break, but didn't make it through the entire school day.
"I was exhausted," she recalled.
But later she did join her teammates in the dugout for a doubleheader against Tyner. Meadows continued to attend games while on the mend.
"To be honest, it was awful," she said. "I didn't like sitting and having to watch the team play instead of going out there and having fun like they did."
Ten days ago she received a doctor's approval to begin practicing again, and that night she went home and hit a few pitches with her father, Glen. Couch, in agreement with her father, was cautious with Meadows when she first returned to practice. She said she did little more than make a few throws and do some running the first day back.
Meadows continued to progress and Tuesday was back in her customary leadoff spot for the first time since going 2-for-4 against Copper Basin on March 21. And after that groundout to start, she singled in her other three at-bats. She only batted against the Lady Bucs but was back in center field Thursday when the Lady Seahawks played at Sale Creek.
"Having her back gives us an advantage," Couch said. "But we're just happy she's here, more than having her playing."
So on Monday when Silverdale travels to Copper Basin, Meadows probably will have a bounce in her step and a smile on her face as she strolls to the plate with her bat at the start of the game. Not only because she's again enjoying playing the sport she loves, but also because she's able to.
"I took a lot of small things for granted," Meadows said. "Now that that's happened, I don't. Softball was taken away from me for a couple of weeks, and I missed it, but now I realize I'm blessed just to be able to live each day."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.