FLEMINGSBURG – On her first day at Fleming County High School after making the move from New Jersey, Faith Adolf told softball coach Nathan Ryver that she would play first base for him in the spring.
But then after about two weeks, she was gone.
Adolf was in an accident on September 14 and was unable to walk, but has since made the recovery and is starting at first base for the Lady Panthers, just like she said she would.
“I came down here really looking forward to horseback riding and to playing softball. I actually came out on the first day of school – or my first day, I was a little late – and I told him, ‘Hi, I’ll be your first baseman. I want to play,’” said Adolf.
“I showed up for maybe two weeks and then disappeared for three months,” added Adolf.
The junior had made the move from southern New Jersey – about a 30 minute drive from Philadelphia, she says – in August with her family. Shortly after, the accident involving a Polaris side-by-side happened.
“I was riding in it with my cousin – I was riding passenger – and it started to rock,” said Adolf. “I had no seat belt or the door up, and when it rocked my body fell out, but I had managed to grab onto a handle, so I kept my upper body in while my legs were underneath the Polaris dragging along the ground.”
She was taken by ambulance to the Fleming County hospital, before being airlifted to the University of Kentucky, where she spent the next month and underwent five surgeries. In her left leg she had a pilon fracture – a fracture that occurs in the lower leg near the ankle. A plate and 11 screws were placed to hold it together, she says. On the right side, she suffered major tendon damage in her foot and says she has no control over her big toe.
“It was very painful. A lot of surgeries. It was all opened wounds, so I had to do daily dressings two times a day, three times a day,” said Adolf.
She was able to leave the hospital in a wheelchair in October and was told she wouldn’t walk again for a few more months.
But she was determined.
“They told me I wasn’t going to walk until January,” said Adolf. “I actually got to start walking around November.”
Adolf underwent physical therapy, working on things like step ups and lateral movements to get her ankle moving.
After a while, as softball season drew closer, Ryver began to wonder what happened to the mysterious girl who approached him at the beginning of the school year, especially because he was trying to replace four seniors off a team that won 21 games the season before.
“Well, I had kind of forgot. She was in the back of my mind, but I had only seen her once and that was pretty much it. I had only seen her the first or second day of school when she actually enrolled,” said Ryver.
“And then I never saw her again, like, until January. I had just not seen her,” added Ryver. “I remember thinking, ‘There was a girl who was here,’ because at the time we were running low on numbers. We’re still running low on numbers. I’m trying to get as many girls as I can think of. I remembered her. I didn’t know her name. I barely knew what she looked like.”
Ryver says that around the time he started asking people if they knew who the girl was, she came back. He asked somebody in the guidance office if they knew, and was informed of who it was, but not about what had happened.
“I remember watching her walk down the hallway and she had kind of a funny canter. I was thinking, ‘Is this the same girl?’” said Ryver. “Then I talked to her and said, ‘Are you Faith?’ She said, ‘Yeah.’”
A couple of weeks into the season Adolf received clearance from the doctor to play. She also had to wait for all of the transfer paperwork with the KHSAA to go through. The delayed start didn’t really hurt the Lady Panthers, as rain and snow washed away many of the early-season games.
Since then, Adolf has played in 24 of the teams 26 games. She’s moved into the starting role at first base and is hitting .268 with six doubles, a home run and 12 RBIs for a team that currently sits at 16-10.
“She was able to win that spot at first and has really been able to solidify our infield defense like that. I don’t think she still fully trusts her ankles yet, because she’s not very mobile in the box. I think it’s still bothering her swing, especially on rotations. I think she’s a little afraid if she rotates too much on those ankles, what they might do,” said Ryver. “I think she’s going to get there. I think next year she’s going to be a good asset – this year she’s a good asset – but she’ll have a good year of strength and conditioning for her ankles and to get her ankles nice and strong.
“She’s been a joy to be around and I’m glad she moved here and not, like, Rowan County or Mason County or a place like that,” added Ryver.
Adolf continues to wear a brace on her left ankle and admits running still gives her issues. In Tuesday’s game against West Carter, she popped up twice before being unable to beat out a ground ball to short.
“Definitely my running was my hardest thing to get past. I had never been a fast runner, but I could definitely steal and do stuff,” said Adolf. “Taking out the running portion, that was really hard to cope with. It was hit it or you’re not going to do too well.”
Her most productive game at the plate recently was when the Lady Panthers traveled to Bath County. She went 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs. Fleming County still has a few regular season games on the schedule, but they already know the Lady Cats will be their opponent in the first round of the 61st District Tournament.
But for Adolf, the mindset she’s taking into the elimination game is the same one she’s had all season.
“I’m going in new. I don’t know any counties. I don’t know any girls,” said Adolf. “I just wanted to show up and be like, ‘I’m the new girl from Jersey. Watch me play.’”