ST. PETERSBURG — There were times before the start of the season when Kelsey Humphrey worried whether she would pitch as effectively as she did last season.
The St. Petersburg Catholic ace first experienced tightness in her back and tendinitis in her right shoulder last year. Initially, she thought it would take a few weeks to heal.
Instead, it took months. The uncertainty scared Humphrey, who was instrumental in helping the Barons win a district title and spent the summer wondering if she would ever return to being that precise pitcher.
She is instrumental again, and will be the rest of the way. On Thursday, she pitched a one-hit shutout, striking out 11 to lead the Barons in a 4-0 victory over rival Shorecrest.
“I wasn’t as consistent as I was in the first couple of games,” said Humphrey, who improved to 4-0. “I wasn’t always hitting my spots. But I was able to do enough to help us win.”
Normally an outfielder, Humphrey became a workhorse pitcher because her team needed her to fill that role a year ago. The pain is still there, but Humphrey gave little thought to giving up her spot on the mound.
Now, ice packs have become part of her wardrobe after games.
“Physically, I’m still in a lot of pain,” Humphrey said. “I can still feel my back tightening up and my shoulder hurting by the sixth and seventh innings. But I just try to keep that out of my head and pitch as well as I can to help my teammates.”
Humphrey got the only run she needed in the first inning. The Barons added to their lead the rest of the game and had three players, Lena Trehy, Paige Theiman and Brooke Zoofer, who each had two hits.
“We’re doing enough on offense to get us going,” SPC coach Tom Fabian said. “But it’s really the way Kelsey has been pitching that’s been keeping us in ball games. We thought she’d be scared off from returning to the mound, but she’s been gung-ho, and it’s been huge for us.”