Mara Goodwin, who plays on one of the Indiana Gators 12-under softball teams, wears jersey No. 25 for a couple of reasons. It was the number her father, Don, wore when he played professional hockey. But mainly she wears it because it isn't the No. 3.
Goodwin wore No. 3 on her previous summer team before joining the Gators, who are among the teams at Camp Jordan this week competing in the National Softball Association A Divsion Eastern World Series in the Chattanooga area. She was even crowned her age group's Miss NSA on Monday.
Last July, Goodwin in her No. 3 jersey slid into third base in the third inning of a national-tournament game in Bristol, Tenn. The girl playing third base jumped to catch a throw and landed on Goodwin's leg, resulting in a spiral fracture of the tibia along with torn ligaments. The only thing she had to try and ease the pain on the eight-hour ride home -- Tylenol 3.
"I was scared," Goodwin said of the moments after she was injured. "I thought I was going to have to have surgery, but I didn't."
Goodwin joined the Gators program not long afterward. And despite having to make a 45-minute to an hour trip each way, began showing up at every practice -- first in a wheelchair, then on crutches, and later in a walking boot.
"Just her being there did amazing things for the rest of the team," Gators coach Buddy Finchum said.
Eventually she was able to practice again, then play first base, then pitch. She said she's not yet 100 percent, but well enough to play.
When asked why she wore No. 3 to begin with, Goodwin said: "It was the only number nobody picked."
Incidentally on the play she was injured, she was the third out.
Four local teams 3-0
Pool play is complete in this week's NSA A East World Series . Four teams from the Chattanooga area went unbeaten in pool play and each won their first game double-elimination game Wednesday.
Two are in 14-under -- the Frost Falcons and Force Elite '98.
"We've hit very well the first couple of days and had some really great pitching from both of our pitchers," Falcons coach Ricky Parton said. "We haven't had to rely on our defense too much, but when we have, they've done the job."
Should both local teams win their games at Warner Park today, they would meet Friday morning at 8 in a winners-bracket quarterfinal. Parton said his team won a close game when they played earlier this summer.
The other unbeaten local teams are the 16-under Heritage Generals and the 10-under Tennessee Fury '02.
Bat winners announced
Louisville Slugger is a longtime sponsor of the NSA and signups for a bat giveaway in each of the tournament's five age groups was held at Monday's opening ceremonies at Camp Jordan.
The Central Illinois Diamondstorm's Jordan Meyer, who has been selected as the 14-under winner, said she wasn't even sure why she entered her name. But now that she's won, she does know if her team is still playing this week when she receives her bat, she's willing to give it a try right away.
"I've been alternating between bats," Meyer said. "It just depends on how it's going. The bats talk to me, I guess you could say."
The other recipients of new bats are Colby Ann Ellington of Georgia's East Cobb Edge (10-under); Madison Milton of the Nashville Smash Club (12-under); Addison Breeding of Team Michigan (16-under); and Kelcie Jenkins of the West Virginia Shockers (18-under).
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.