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DeKalb softball's Friedlund back with a bang after concussion

DeKalb's Sarah Friedlund bats during a game against Kaneland on April 25 at DeKalb High School. The Knights beat the Barbs 4-3.
DeKalb's Sarah Friedlund bats during a game against Kaneland on April 25 at DeKalb High School. The Knights beat the Barbs 4-3.

DeKALB – With a 2-2 count, DeKalb junior Sarah Friedlund took a step out of the box and relaxed.

Friedlund doesn’t fancy herself as a two-strike hitter. But with Lindsey Costliow on second and the Barbs trailing Morris by one Tuesday afternoon, Friedlund was in a big spot.

She didn’t let the count bother her, instead taking the next pitch over the fence at DeKalb High School, giving the Barbs a walk-off win. The home run improved the Barbs’ record to 14-4 and 4-2
in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East.

“I was just hoping for a shot up to center field to score Lindsey, who was on second base at the time,” Friedlund said before DeKalb’s Wednesday practice. “Once she pitched it to me, it was just right outside, kind of in the middle. I just swung and it went. I definitely felt it when I hit it.”

It was a high moment in a season which got off to a scary start for Friedlund. On Feb. 28, six months to the day after she had gotten her driver’s license and during the same week softball practice began, Friedlund was driving down Keslinger Road, heading to DHS for a normal school day.

On her way, Friedlund ran into a snow drift. Friedlund remembers most of the road being clear, but by the time she saw the drift, she was already there, and her car went off the road and flipped over into a ditch.

Luckily for Friedlund, she felt fine. She was still able to reach into her purse, which was now on the ceiling of the car, and grab her phone. Her first instinct was to call her mother. Another man had saw her car upside down with its lights on and had called 911.

The airbags in Friedlund’s’ car didn’t go off, and she felt she could have gotten out herself, but decided to wait for the paramedics to arrive.

“I didn’t know if I should move or not,” she said. “It was pretty scary, but I knew I was OK, so I wasn’t too freaked out.”

However, a week later, Friedlund found out she wasn’t 100 percent. She had headaches, but didn’t think anything of it. She’s always had sensitivity to light and sound, so she wasn’t worried when she started having those symptoms.

Prior to softball season, Friedlund had to take the concussion ImPACT test, which is mandatory for all freshmen and junior athletes. It takes roughly a half an hour and tests athletes’ memory and reaction time.

A couple of days after Friedlund took the test, DHS trainer Nate Viland called her in to tell her she did indeed have a concussion.

“I didn’t really put anything together until I walk into the school and I’m like ‘I probably have a concussion,’ “ Friedlund said. “And then he was like ‘you didn’t pass your test.’ “

Friedlund had also suffered a concussion during her sophomore basketball season when she took a charge and fell back and hit her head, and said the symptoms for that one were worse, which is one reason she didn’t think as much of the concussion symptoms she recently suffered.

Friedlund ended up going to a neurologist, who told her she would be out for three weeks.

When she was cleared for activity, Friedlund started off with 10-minute jogs, followed by series’ of sprints and some backpedalling, and also started playing catch and swinging a bat.

She finally got some game action during the Barbs’ 12-0 win over Rochelle on April 9. Since she’s been back 2012 Daily Chronicle all-area selection and NI Big 12 East all-conference pick has hit in the middle of the lineup, and has been playing shortstop with Jessica Townsend having moved to center field.

“Sarah’s one of those kids, when you put her in right field she’s your best right fielder. You put her at shortstop she’s your best shortstop,” DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said. “Catcher she’s your best catcher. So right now we need a shortstop, she’s willing to do that.

“I think that’s just a sign of a great teammate. She’s putting all that all-conference stuff aside and she wants to win ballgames.”

Friedlund felt like she was fully back to normal a week ago. Davis said Tuesday’s effort was Friedlund’s best game of the season.

“She’s back 100 percent,” Davis said. “But yesterday was the best she’s looked at the plate since she’s been back.”

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