Softball's D'Argento Comes Back Stronger After Surgery
April 11, 2014
Written by senior Kristen Scott
The news came as a surprise to right-handed pitcher Nicole D'Argento. In her junior year as a member of Boston College's softball team, D'Argento lead the Atlantic Coast Conference with five saves, recorded 114 strikeouts in 37 appearances, and lead the Eagles with a .338 batting average. Then she found out she needed Tommy John surgery.
"It was kind of a shock. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know it was going to be to that degree of needing surgery," D'Argento said. "But I had a great support system from my coaches to my parents and even the baseball coaches and some of the baseball players who had been through the surgery. Having them talk me through it definitely lessened the blow."
D'Argento had a strong network to encourage her throughout her surgery. Head coach Ashley Obrest talked the righty through her doubts and even went along on doctors' appointments with her. Baseball players Andrew Chin and Nick Colucci, who also have undergone Tommy John surgery, reassured D'Argento about bumps in the healing process as well.
"Knowing that I could come back for another year and that wasn't going to be the end of my career also kind of got me through it," D'Argento said. "I love playing. I love this team. I wasn't ready to be done. There were still things I wanted to accomplish as a player and this team has so much that it wants to accomplish and I wanted to be a part of that journey."
Tommy John surgery, typical among pitchers in the baseball world, isn't common for softball pitchers. So, when D'Argento began her rehabilitation process, she experimented with a lot of trial and error to find the right formula for success.
"If I felt good on this day, then maybe I'd add in a couple more throws. If I felt bad, then we'd have to back it off," D'Argento explained. "There's always a bit of hesitation after a surgery, so to be mentally tough enough to work back the pitches takes a lot. I remember tweaking my elbow when I was throwing a screwball. To bring that back into my repertoire was tough for me."
Now back for her senior year, D'Argento has made some tweaks to the way she approaches pitching. Her adjustments have helped her not only bounce back from Tommy John surgery, but also improve on her old technique.
"The mental game has become so important to me. To be mentally tough not only through all my rehab getting ready for the season, but I also had to redefine myself as a pitcher and a player because there's so many unknowns coming back from a surgery," D'Argento said. "I have all my pitches. I think I've even strengthened some of my weaknesses that I've had in the past. I used to be just an east-west pitcher, and now I can change all planes. I'm way more effective now than I was in the past."
In her junior year, D'Argento earned First-Team All-ACC and All-Region honors. Now she has her sights set on becoming an All-American. The path to Oklahoma City, where the NCAA Softball National Championship takes place each year, presents plenty of challenges. The team holds a 20-16 record going into a weekend series with Maryland.
"I'm really happy. Our team is in a really good place right now and we're off to a great start. We know what we have to do, now it's just a matter of putting it all together to keep that winning record," D'Argento said. "We have a great team dynamic this year, and that's something that's really encouraging as a senior - to know that the program is going to continue to grow and that players are here for the right reasons."
Talking about the strong chemistry of the team, D'Argento gave all accolades to the head of the program. Obrest, in her third year at the helm, knows what it takes to lead a successful team.
"She has a clear vision of where she wants to take this team. Everyone is excited to be a part of this program, to be a part of a winning team, and to actually compete in the ACC. It all starts with Ashley," said D'Argento.
The team is confident its ability to compete in the ACC will eventually bring them to the ACC Tournament. The tournament begins May 8 in College Park, Md. This year only the top-eight teams from each conference get a bid to enter the conference tournament. D'Argento's goal is to be one of them.
"Our goal right from the get-go is to be the best team in New England. So we have to treat all of our midweek games just like we treat our conference matchup. A long-term goal for us is to be a part of the ACC Tournament, but we're not going to get there if we don't focus game-by-game, pitch-by-pitch."