ROCKTON — Taylor Boelte wasn’t thinking worst-case scenario when she landed awkwardly against Belvidere North last April.
The southpaw ace from Hononegah, on her way to a second straight terrific season, thought she might have strained something in her knee. At first, the doctors agreed.
“I was misdiagnosed at first,” Boelte said. “I was told it was a sprained MCL and I would be out just a few weeks. It was actually starting to feel better when I was sitting in class and my dad sent me a text that said ‘Sorry, it’s actually your ACL.’”
Boelte’s first thought wasn’t the surgery to follow, coupled with grueling months of rehabilitation efforts ahead of her.
“I just thought there was no way I was going to get a chance to be recruited,” Boelte said. “This was my junior year, which is the most important season. Not only would I be missing that, but I’d also be missing the summer, where a lot of coaches can come out and watch you play.”
Boelte cruised through her rehab in record time, receiving the clearance to play again just four months after her surgery. She was able to pitch in the fall, and as luck would have it one of her travel ball coaches had a connection with Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., a place Boelte had visited in the summer.
Two things stuck out about Lewis: First, they needed a pitcher. Second, they had a terrific nursing school, the major Boelte coveted. After showing her skills to the coaches, the long-awaited scholarship offer was made, and Boelte’s collegiate decision along with it.
“I really wanted to find a school that could balance softball with nursing and all the clinicals,” Boelte said. “Nursing is one of their top majors there, and I loved the coaching staff. I’m really looking forward to facing really good competition every day. I love pitching in the 1-0, 2-1 type games where every pitch matters.”
Boelte would love a repeat of her sophomore season this spring. In 2014, she was named to the NIC-10 All-Conference Team and Third-Team All State after batting .407 with three homers and 31 RBI for the Indians. In the circle, she went 13-1 with 151 strikeouts in 109 innings pitched.
Hononegah coach Kurt Head likes what he sees so far this spring in his ace.
“She’s been working very hard for us in practice,” Head said. “She stays after every time to continue to work on her pitching. She looks good right now, but she’s going to look even better at the end. I think she’ll be back to full strength by mid-season. She’s worked very hard to get back and she’s a very determined individual.”
Boelte, who also hopes to hit in college, could be in the circle as the Indians open play Saturday at Rock Island.