WEST POINT — Kenzie Juckes has heard of a variety of ailments.
It wasn’t until last season that the Oak Hill Academy pitcher became all too familiar with the term “winged scapula.”
According to sportsinjuryclinic.net, a winged scapula is a symptom of another condition, rather than an injury. It is where the shoulder blade protrudes out on the back, rather than laying flat against the back of the chest wall.
The condition ultimately forced Juckes, who started the season in the circle for the Raiders, to miss the rest of the season with shoulder and back pain.
“It kind of ran down my back and it was on my arm. Unfortunately my pitching arm, so it would cause a little pain to throw,” Juckes said. “I was out a month or a month and a half. I didn’t get to play in the tournament. It was sad.”
But Juckes is back and ready to work with junior catcher Anna Grace Reed and the rest of her teammates for an even better season. That season will begin at 6 p.m. Friday against Heritage Academy in Columbus.
Juckes hopes she can avoid another setback and help lead a young team that features four seniors. She said she had never heard of a winged scapula until last season. Juckes said the condition feels better now after therapy and time to build up the muscle, which is why she is looking forward to making the most of her final season.
“I am looking forward to playing with my girls, the people I have been playing with for a long time,” Juckes said. “I am excited to see how we advance as a team. I think I will be fine. I just have to keep practicing and building up that muscle. I am hoping for the best.”
Reed, who is one of four pitchers on the team, saw action last season after Juckes was lost to the injury. She, too, is looking forward to having Juckes healthy and prepared to shoulder a large part of the pitching duties. Overall, she hopes the experience of reaching the postseason despite three key injuries will help a young group take a step forward.
“These younger girls coming up aren’t that experienced, but we try to help them out as much as possible,” Reed said. “Coach (Mitch) Bohon is really supportive, and he understands they are young, so we just try to make sure they are comfortable. The ones who have never played in positions are really stepping up and trying their best. I think this season is going to be good for us.”
Reed smiled when asked what it would be like to have Juckes back for all of the 2018 season. She said she is “praying to God” Juckes remains at 100 percent and that she will have fun catching her as part of what she called the “dynamic duo.”
Senior Reagan Freeman, who plays center field, said the Raiders don’t have a lot of depth, but she said everyone is trying their best to fill the graduation losses from last season.
“We played through a lot of adversity last year,” Freeman said. “We had illnesses and injuries and we had to kind of learn to work together through those. People had to learn they had to step up when those things happened. Those seniors are gone, so now (the younger players) have to fill those shoes otherwise it is not going to go so good. I think that need is going to drive people to do their best.”
Bohon, who is in his fourth season as coach of the fast-pitch program,
“It is going to be one of those things where we will see,” Bohon said. “We’re really young in some spots. We have pretty good senior leadership. We have some upperclassmen who have had to play since seventh and eighth grade, so the experience is there.”
Bohon said his players are involved in so many other things — basketball, cheerleading, track and field, tennis — so there is work to be done, but he feels he has a team filled with athletes that has a lot of potential.
Bohon hopes Juckes will be able to handle the responsibility of being the team’s No. 1 pitcher for the whole season.
“We were 6-2 before she got hurt,” Bohon said. “If she stays healthy, we might be able to get over the hump and get to that 15- or 16-win season.”
Juckes and Reed believe their ability to work together will help the Raiders grow as the season progresses.
“We’re really close, especially during softball season,” Juckes said. “We just have that pitcher-catcher intuition thing.”
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.