Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Entering her senior season at Midwest High School in Tulsa, Okla., Shianne Hughes already knew what was going to happen the following fall. She was going to go to Oklahoma State and play softball for the Cowgirls. However, one fateful day in September of 2011 almost changed the life of the OSU sophomore outfielder.
“I played competitive soccer in high school,” Hughes said. “It was my senior year and I knew I was coming to OSU to play softball, but my dad encouraged me to finish playing because I still liked soccer. It was our first tournament, and it was really a freak accident, another girl and I collided in the air and I fell on my knee wrong.”
With her knee not really swelling up, and unable to visit the doctor because of the Labor Day holiday, Hughes didn’t think much of the pain in her leg. That all changed when she visited the doctor the Tuesday after the injury.
“I went to the doctor and he was moving around my leg and something popped,” Hughes said. “I thought it was fine then because it felt good. Then the doctor told me that that meant my ACL wasn’t there. By this time, I was freaking out because I thought I’d lose my scholarship and I was crying.”
The situation with her knee didn’t really hit her until six weeks later when she went into surgery.
“I had to have surgery about six weeks later because they had to wait for the swelling to go down, Hughes said. “I had the first surgery and they reconstructed it with the cadaver and my hamstring. After that I had to go to physical therapy every day for about two hours, even on the weekends.”
Unfortunately, recovery didn’t come as easily as she had hoped.
“There it was a point where it didn’t get better, so they would bent and stretch it, and movement should increase every day,” Hughes said. “Well at one point it didn’t move past a certain point. Finally, I had to go back to the doctor and they had to go back in and scope it, and they found a bunch of scar tissue under my knee cap. They removed that and then I started rehab over again, but I had to have a huge cast over my leg for a few weeks and that was annoying. After that I kept going back to rehab, and for some reason it still didn’t really get better and they doctor sent me for another opinion.”
Hughes struggled with her injury and her recovery. While most days were good, she often had days where she didn’t know if she’d ever play softball again, let alone walk or run. It wasn’t until she watched a video that let her see that things were going to be alright.
“It wasn’t until I watched this “I Am Second” video,” Hughes said. “His name was Baron Batch and he kind of went through the same thing. “I Am Second” is basically talking about putting God first. So I watched the video and I felt like God was speaking to me and reminding me that it’s going to be okay and that everything happens for a reason and it was just a setback. Basically, it was through my faith that helped me through it. It just kept me going. I wanted to give up so many times, but my faith is what got me through it, or at least get me back to my mental state that I could do it.”
Hughes does not hide the fact that her faith has helped her through the hardest time in her career.
“God just reminds me every day that he gave me another chance to play softball,” Hughes said. “He healed my leg. It could have been that I wouldn’t be able to play again. I just remember that He gave me another chance so I have to go every day and give my all to Him because I wouldn’t be playing again without Him healing me.”
Teammate Ari Morrison believes that Hughes’ faith brings the Cowgirls together as a team.
“She leads us in prayer before every game in the locker room,” Morrison said “Before each game who hold hands a pray with her. I feel like that brings us all together because we could all be off with our groups of people doing whatever in the locker room, but when Shi says ‘let’s pray’ we all come together as one and pray.”
Hughes used that faith during her freshman season in hopes to finally be healed and to remind herself that she is meant to play softball. During her freshman campaign, Hughes played in 29 games and made five starts at second base. However, her knee was not as healthy as she had hoped it would be.
“Last season it still kind of hurt me,” Hughes said. “Even though I played a little bit it still hurt. The summer came and I gave it some time off and then I hit it hard about a month before we came back. It started feeling better with the rest. Then it got to the point where it wouldn’t really hurt when I ran or did anything. When we got to the fall I just told myself that I could do it because I really wanted to play. I worked my butt off just to get that spot because I knew I could do it.”
Over the summer, Hughes traveled to South Carolina and played in a league that allowed college softball players to get extra practice during the off-season.
“Out there it was just a group of girls,” Hughes said. “There were enough people that there were two teams and every day we’d play and they’d split up the teams differently so you aren’t playing on the same team against the same people every day. We’d play at night so during the day you could work out or do whatever you wanted too.”
That summer in South Carolina didn’t just help her get better at the game, it helped her build confidence in herself and her knee.
“For me to go out there it was a confidence builder because I hadn’t played for so long that at the end of the season I didn’t know if I was good anymore,” Hughes said. “Going out there reaffirmed that I’m still supposed to be playing softball. I had so much fun out there and I actually did really well. It brought confidence back and that’s where I finally realized that my knee didn’t really hurt me when I played. So that helped, just realizing that my injury was over and healed as much as it would be, and I could play without the fear of hurting it again.”
Morrison believes that the summer also helped her develop her game.
“I think it helped her a lot,” Morrison said. “She didn’t really play outfield before that, she was all infield. Then when she went out there she played outfield and now she’s one of our best outfielders.”
During the fall season, Hughes hit .471 in five starts and stole four bases on the way to earning the starting spot in right field. Morrsion believes that the fight that Hughes showed over the last year to earn that spot rubs off on the other members of the team.
“It makes Shi a silent leader because she’s not the most vocal person, but she leads through her work ethic and people can see that,” Morrison said. “She’s not necessarily injured, but she plays through so much pain every single day, and she does it to be the best teammate she can be.”
Thirty-three games into the 2014 season, Hughes is batting .224 and is starting almost every day in right field. However, one of her favorite parts about playing, is getting to play against her sister, Cierra, a senior on the Tulsa Hurricane.
“It’s exciting, but it’s hard,” Hughes said. “ I want her to do well, but I want to beat them. I’m like cheering for her in my head, but at the same time I want her to get out. It’s a mental battle. It’s a lot of fun and we joke about it, but it’s a fun and games kind of thing. “
Anyone who encounters Hughes would never know about the pain that she has gone through. Hughes makes sure that everyone is thinking positive and she works at being the best teammate she can be.
Morrison knows that her positive attitude helps the rest of the Cowgirls push through the hardest times during the long season.
“Shi is just a great all around person,” Morrison said. “She’s probably the best teammate we have. She never complains about anything and she is probably the one in the most pain on the team. She’s always smiling and always positive and working the hardest.”