By Lindsey Manroel
RANDY METCALF/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Junior Wendy Allen examines the wrist that has been a constant health problem for over a year. Allen plans to have surgery on her wrist following the end of the season. Allen, a transfer from Ohio State, was the 2002 Big Ten player of the year.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday February 19, 2003
Junior pitcher puts surgery on hold to contribute to Wildcats
She strolls up to the mound with a green ribbon in her hair that she's worn since her sophomore year in high school. She picks up the ball and, as she releases the pitch, the cyst or abnormality in junior Wendy Allen's left carpal tunnel hurts.
She feels as if she's been shocked. A shooting pain begins in her elbow and extends downward to her fingers, so intense that at times Allen's scared to finish her pitch.
She pitches through the pain, but it is inevitable.
"Have you ever gotten shocked?" Allen asked. "It hurts, but I have to play with it. When I'm pitching in practice I think about it but when I'm on the mound (during a game) I only think about pitching. I'm afraid of finishing my pitches because that's when it hurts the most."
As if it happened yesterday, Allen remembers the day vividly.
Suited up in her Ohio State uniform, Allen was pitching for her former team on April 12, 2001, against Iowa.
"I pitched a curveball and my fingers went numb and there was a tingling feeling," Allen said. "I knew something wasn't right and it slowly started affecting my pitching and hitting."
Soon afterward, Allen visited the doctor and at first she was told she may have tendonitis.
She was given a brace followed by an anti-inflammatory shot to make the swelling and pain go down. Instead of having less pain, Allen broke out in hives.
It was later that she was told she had cyst or abnormality in her left wrist ÷ her pitching arm.
Her family, though scared that if Allen continued playing her injury might worsen, supported her decision to play.
"My family wanted me to get surgery because they didn't want me to have a rough season," Allen said. "But they were supportive."
Allen approached her first season as a Wildcat no differently than last year's season at Ohio State ÷ with pain. She has learned to plan her day accordingly.
Allen purposely scheduled her Fridays without class, not so she can sleep in after a rough night out like many UA students, but because writing makes her wrist act up and Fridays are game days.
She records class lectures, writes as little as possible, drives with her right hand and avoids sleeping on her left wrist as she knows that if she does it will be numb the next morning.
Allen fights through it each and every day, and if she's not on the mound, she's playing first base for Arizona.
As she presses down on her wrist during yesterday's cold practice, Allen doesn't even make a face. Though the nerves fire and send pain messages to her brain, Allen ignores them.
"We're milking her through it because we need her," UA head coach Mike Candrea said. "She's such a smart player and can play at a high level. She's very competitive but she's not 100 percent."
When the season concludes in May, hopefully after UA wins the Women's College World Series, Allen will undergo surgery ÷ a process that takes four to six months to recover from, she said.
"I'm 80 percent and slowly declining," Allen said .
Until the surgery, there's not much Allen hasn't tried. After games, she can only massage her wrist. She tried ultra-sounding it, but it hurt too badly.
Despite her injury and inability to compete at her optimum level, Allen has the support of her coaches and teammates.
"I can relate, me having had two stress fractures," UA volunteer assistant coach and former UA pitcher Jennie Finch said. "When you're that competitive, that's your escape and it's an adrenaline rush. Wendy has a great attitude and wants to learn. She's a consistent player and everyone feeds off her."
As of now, the 2002 Big Ten Player of the Year can only do one thing: focus on anything other than her pain.
"It becomes a part of you and all of us play with pain," Allen said. "You just try to forget about it. Hopefully it won't get worse."