Appleton North's Maddie Boyd has returned from a serious back injury suffered last season. (Doug Ritchay/WLUK)
APPLETON After her sophomore season Appleton North's Maddie Boyd wanted to get better so like most athletes she increased her workout program.By the time the next season approached Boyd was more than ready to pitch, and as it turned out, too ready.Boyd was limited to two games her junior season because she developed a stress fracture in her back due to overuse. While her intentions were good, she went too far and put her career in jeopardy.She hit a crossroads during her recovery: should she continue to rehab or would it be too much to get back to form? As it turned out, the decision was easy."It pushed me to the limit to the part where I didn't know should I keep fighting for this or just give up and do something else, because I always have academics on my side," she said. "But softball has always been the thing for me, so I knew I had to get gritty, persevere and just push through it."There was about 10 months between pitches for Boyd and she finally threw her first pitch since her injury in February. She remembers that first pitch."I was sweating so bad for this, but then after a couple practices and such I started feeling more loose and realizing I could start pushing myself, so I worked my way up to where I am now," she said.Boyd, who will pitch for Valparaiso starting next year, pushed through it and is once again in the circle for the Lightning. While she has no limitations, North is being cautious with Boyd, never pitching her both games of a doubleheader."It's taken her a while to get back. I honestly think she's got a little room yet," North coach Mike Mullen said. "She's still getting stronger. We still see her improving as the year's going on. We have high hopes."Talking about being back, Boyd smiles. She's put in a lot of hard work and that was proven in the first game this season, when she led the Lightning to a 1-0 win over Kaukauna. North is 4-4 in the Fox Valley Association this season, which might erase it from winning the league title, but the Lightning remains a quality team playing in arguably the toughest conference in the state. Boyd is confident North can be in the FVA mix."We work so hard, so I feel like once things finally start going our way and start proving to everybody we're big competitors, especially in the FVA," she said. "We're trying to go for No. 1 that we're going to be a big powerhouse in this conference."Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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