INDIANAPOLIS | It was January. It was cold outside. It was even frostier inside the home of Portage's Lauren Murray. Deep pain and doubts about the future were one thing.
Having her leg in the air with an ice machine around it was another thing. This was needed due to a surgery that put her kneecap back in place.
Last spring for the Indians softball program Murray slid into third base and she knew something wasn't right.
“It was rough,” Murray said on Saturday night in the happy outfield of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. “I just laid on the ground. I didn't know if I should cry or get up and walk it off.”
A dislocated knee put a big stop sign before Murray's path.
Neither Murray, her parents nor her coach remembered who the Indians were playing when the injury occurred. But that didn't matter when she stepped to the plate in the fourth inning in a game against Franklin Central.
All that was on the line Saturday was the Class 4A state championship. There were two outs with two runners on base and Flashes' pitcher Gabby Snyder was throwing a no-hitter.
The light, though, turned green. You can't keep a player or a team down when they're in the middle of a resurrection tour.
On a full count she blasted a screwball deep to left field that cleared the defense and bounced for a double. Both runners scored and Portage won the game 2-0.
These Indians completed one of the greatest rags to riches tournament runs in history.
“I thought it was gone,” said Chris Murray, Lauren's mom.
“I was going nuts,” said Tom Murray, Lauren's dad.
“I thought it was either going out or it was going to be caught,” Lauren said. “Then, Haley Hodges told me to start running and I did.”
The fact Murray is running at all is a mini-miracle. Her doctor told her the best she will ever be is 80 percent. The right fielder had a lot of doubts about whether she would ever play the game she loves again.
But she did. On the biggest stage possible.
“Eighty percent,” Portage coach Lisa Hayes said with a smile. “That's all we needed was her 80 percent. That got the job done, didn't it?”
The crutches, extensive rehab and fear fighting was swept away with one wicked swing of the bat.
History was made. You could see that on Murray's face as her Indians huddled for a team photo holding the B-E-L-I-E-V-E sign that has become a breathing symbol of this never-say-die team.
Like Murray, the “V” on the sign is broken. But both stand for Victory.
“I'm a very negative person, I always think the worst is going to happen,” Murray said. “That sign shows what confidence can do. What your team can do, what you can do, when you believe.”
What more needs to be said?
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at email@example.com.