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Resiliency: Overcoming Tommy John Surgery - Kristal Torres' Inspiring Story of Overcoming Adversity

Lady Dukes Gold - Torres:

Name: Kristal Torres

Hometown: Easton, Pennsylvania (PA)

Grad Year: 2023

Travel Team: Lady Dukes Gold - Torres

High School: Bethlehem Catholic High School, PA

Positions: Outfield/Second Base

Height: 5’ 3”

Email: 00kristaltorres@gmail.com

Twitter: @kristaltorres00


After suffering a second ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury, Tommy John surgery was the only option for 2023 Kristal Torres of the Lady Dukes Gold - Torres. While she was given the option of rehabbing again and possibly never being 100% or changing sports, Kristal looked at her dad who is also her Coach and she said, “ I’m playing softball this season and I’m playing in college”.


A month later Kristal had Tommy John Surgery on November 1, 2021. While at times things got foggy for her she refused to give in and instead insisted that not only would she play this season again for the Dukes but that she would come back to play with her high school teammates at Bethlehem Catholic High School in Bethlehem, PA. Her high school team made a strong run at a State Championship title, ultimately finishing in a State Semi-Final appearance in 2021.


Here is the awe-inspiring account of how Kristal persevered and got by these last few months.


When did the injury first happen?

My injury first happened in October of 2021.


When you suffered the same injury the second time you must have been down but what

gave you the strength to have surgery instead of changing sports?

Changing my sport was never an option for me. My goal has always been to play college softball and that still remains my goal.


Why is it so important for you to get back this to the Dukes and your high school

team?

It is very important for me to get back to my Dukes team this Summer because we have a very strong team and I feel that we will have a very successful season against top competition. It is also very important for me to get back to my high school team this season because we made it to the State Semi-Finals and I believe that we have a chance at making it to the State Championship, and I want to be able to help both of my teams out.


Being a 2023 and not being able to showcase yourself how did you handle that?

Honestly, it’s been extremely hard for me. At first, it felt like my junior season wasn’t going to be as expected, but as time went on, I told myself that this has happened to me for a reason and that I would come back 100% better.


How was your rehab did you have some ups and downs?

My rehab journey has had many ups and downs. There were many days when I’d come home from rehab feeling great and like I was taking one step forward, but there were also a lot of days where I would come home in pain and question if I am taking steps backwards. Rehab has not only been physically exhausting, but mentally draining.


Through your rehab who where your biggest supporters?

Through my rehab journey, I’ve had many people support me along the way. But there are three people who have really pushed me to believe in myself. The first two are my parents. My parents have always pushed me to keep a positive mindset and find ways to get stronger for the day that I would be able to come back. Another person who has made a huge impact on me is my physical therapist, Shannon Pennella at Luke’s Physical Therapy. Shannon has seen me from the day I was barely able to move my finger tips to the day I got cleared to hit. She’s made the biggest impact on me not only physically but mentally by reminding me that she was determined to get me back on the field.


What are some of the things you did to get back and to be ready?

Some of the things I did to get ready was spending a lot more time in the gym to get stronger and faster. I stayed involved in my practices. Whether it was taking fly balls, doing one hand drills, or even doing the strength and conditioning with my team all of these have helped get me ready.


How was it missing winter workouts did you get to do anything with your teams?

Missing Dukes Winter workouts for the second season in a row was very frustrating for me. Winter workouts are a very crucial time for us, but even though I was faced with this, I still continued going to all of my team practices and staying as active with them as possible.


You have been cleared to hit in games but not throwing yet. How do you feel you can

help your High School now and your Dukes team this summer?

Being cleared to hit was a huge step forward for me. Knowing that I was going to be able to help my high school team out this season was very exciting. Even if I’m not cleared to throw by this school season I plan on being able to help them out at the plate. When it comes to the Dukes season this Summer, I plan on being able to help not only at the plate, but in the outfield and base running.


The college recruiting obviously has taken a backseat but what schools are you

interested in and what can you tell them now that you can hit in games?

Right now I am interested in Monmouth University but I have also spoken to other schools. Now that I’m able to hit in games, I would like to tell the college coaches that through the process, I’ve never stopped working. I’ve continued to work hard and come back stronger. I am ready to compete this Summer and get ready for the next level.


What is your expectation for you during your high school season for you and for

summer season with Dukes?

My expectations for this school season and Dukes season are high as always. I expect to help both of my teams offensively and defensively and continue to be a good teammate.


What would you tell someone in your shoes with a injury?

I would tell someone that’s in my shoes to never get down on yourself. During this time, it’s very easy to give up and forget what your goals are but continue to work hard and believe that this is happening for a reason.


What have you gained from this injury?

I’ve gained a lot from this injury. It has showed me how much love I have for the game and how important it is to take care of your body. It has made me not only physically stronger, but mentally stronger than I’ve ever been.


What does Kristal's coaches think about all this? Are they surprised about her quick recovery and return?


“Surprised, maybe from a medical standpoint but not from the athlete’s mental and physical determination. The game and team mean a great deal to Kristal, because of that I know how hard she’s worked to get to this point.”

- Assistant Coach David Pyle


“Absolutely not. Kristal was determined to get to this point. She was extremely focused in her physical therapy and determined to get back in time for high school season. She battled through some short term setbacks and continued to do everything her therapist asked. Her positive frame of mind and work ethic have got her to a point where it is very likely she will be in her high school lineup this spring.”

- Assistant Coach Shawn McHale


With Kristal Returning for summer season how does this affect your team?

“With Kristal returning to our team it solidifies the outfield, brings back

a bat in the lineup that was hot upon departure. Those values along with the positive attitude

and collaborative teammate in the dugout should help in all aspects.”

- Assistant Coach David Pyle


“Kristal’s return helps not only in the field but in the lineup also. Kristal will immediately contribute as a corner outfielder and will play some 2nd base, with the bat Kristal adds pop and speed to the lineup. She is a solid all around hitter who can drive balls in the gaps and lay down a bunt when needed. We are excited to see her back in action.”

- Assistant Coach Shawn McHale


UPDATE: On March 30, 2022, Krystal Torres has been medically cleared to begin her throwing program.



First Swings After Medically Cleared





First swings morning of first HS game this season


Last Swings September 2021 JMU Team Camp



2021 HS Season Bethlehem Catholic High School

Be sure to email and/or follow Kristal on Twitter and feel free to offer her support and encouragement. There is no doubt she will achieve her dream of playing college softball.


Email: 00kristaltorres@gmail.com

Twitter: @kristaltorres00

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