Makaela Penning is a promising catcher from Indianapolis, Indiana and was ranked as a Top 200 player in the Class of 2022 Overall Rankings and the 64th ranked catcher in the 2022 Position Rankings earlier this year.
She had just joined the Ohio Outlaws Premier 16U team last fall coached by Tom Schmeiser and was looking to have a breakout year when lefty pitcher Lydia Spalding, a 2021 commit to Penn State, threw a 60-mile fastball that was nicked by the batter and hit Makaela’s facemask with full impact.
“Makaela honestly barely could remember her name,” Coach Schmeiser recalls. “Her dad took her to the Emergency Room and she was out with a severe concussion for 10 weeks… and missed school for eight weeks!”
The catcher returned to the Outlaws Fall Brawl and “got her feet wet a little bit,” according to Coach Schmeiser. But the next event—in Scenic City—put together an explosive stat line in a power pool against several high-quality teams: she led the team in the tourney with a .615 batting average, a .643 on-base percentage and was second on the Outlaws with a .846 slugging percentage and a 1.489 OPS.
“She got a ton of interest that weekend!” the Outlaws coach continued. “She really swings it hard!
Makaela would go on to finish strong at the USA Elite WFC in Viera, Florida and at the PGF Qualifier in Gainesville before drawing interest at some college winter camps.
Today, the 2022 standout is back on track, but her scary experience forced her to face her fears before stepping back into the batter’s box and behind the plate.
Here’s Makaela’s story….
I love playing softball and in one scary moment I thought that my goals of playing in college might be gone.
Injuries of all kinds are prevalent in all sports and when you hear about concussions in sports it is common to think of football, boxing or soccer, but they occur in softball too.
Concussions are a difficult process to go through as anyone who has experienced one will agree. There are many degrees of concussions with the worst possible outcome being one where you have something you love taken away.
In my case, I was afraid it was softball.
It all happened on a Sunday in September, the second day of our weekend tournament. I remember that the day was perfect for softball with the sun out and beautiful weather.
Stepping onto the field for our second game, I believed it was just going to be another game with my team doing what we do best - winning.
Unknowingly, God had other plans for me.
*** Scroll down to read more about Makaela’s injury and what her parents said to get her back on track …