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Plant pitcher Kayla Suskauer, one of the area's best players at her position, has committed to play softball at Furman in Greenville, S.C. A Times all-county selection last spring, the right-hander helped lead the Panthers to the Class 5A region final.

"She's been a key for us," Plant coach Melissa Sigmon said.

Suskauer, who had a 0.93 ERA in 2008, began her prep career at Academy of the Holy Names before transferring to Plant last year. She was the ace of the Panthers staff, twice earning victories over nationally ranked Chamberlain. One of those wins against the Chiefs came in the state playoffs.

Plant lost to Venice 1-0 in the region final.

"She's a hard worker," Sigmon said. "She's been solid ... the rock that kind of got us where we were."

TC's Barcena hopeful of return

When the helmet of a Jacksonville Trinity Christian player smacked into his chin during a recent game, Tampa Catholic right tackle Ronnie Barcena didn't think much of it. He stayed on the field for the next play, a PAT. But after Barcena reached the sideline, he started stumbling, then began to vomit. Before long, he was in an ambulance and headed to a hospital. Later that night, his muscles "went numb."

"I was paralyzed from the neck down for about five hours," Barcena said. "I was horrified."

He got feeling back by 4 a.m. Five hours later, he was walking. Later, Barcena learned that he had suffered a concussion and fractured a vertebrae in his neck.

Nearly two weeks after the injury, Barcena, a senior, hopes he can return to the field this season. In four weeks, he will visit doctors for more tests. If cleared, he said he could possibly participate soon after if TC is still alive in the playoffs. "I'd say it's 50-50," Barcena said.

Barcena said Tuesday he is thankful for all the prayers from the TC community. And he is particularly grateful the trainer recognized his condition on the sideline.

"Thank God he noticed," Barcena said. "The doctor said if I went out to play again I could be paralyzed, dead or in a coma."

Compiled by staff writers Keith Niebuhr and Eduardo A. Encina.

Wilson looking ahead

Former Sickles standout Kenny Wilson's first year in professional baseball was a difficult one. After the Blue Jays made Wilson their second-round pick in June - he was the bay area's highest draft selection - Wilson struggled with the Jays' Florida Gulf Coast League team in Dunedin. He stole 24 bases in 28 attempts but hit just .210 in 162 at-bats.

"I learned a lot," Wilson said. "It was tougher than I thought, but I'm happy with the way I handled the failure part of it."

Wilson said he played well in instructional league after the season, and believes he might get promoted to Toronto's low Class A team in Lansing, Mich.

"It was nice to be able to live at home," he said. "That was a blessing, being able to come home and sleep in my own bed."