A.C.’s Taggart battles back from injury for senior swan song

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smallertaggart Bill LeConey/Atlantic City's Maddie Taggart prepares to throw a pitch against Mainland on April 28. ATLANTIC CITY – Atlantic City High School softball player Maddie Taggart walked gingerly to the pitching circle to face Mainland Regional on Monday, April 28, still somewhat gimpy from a sprained ankle sustained a week before.

When the game was over about 90 minutes later, Taggart had fired a four-hit shutout, striking out nine, in a 3-0 victory over Mainland. Ariana Marino and Sierra Jordan each hit RBI doubles in the game as the Vikings broke a seven-game losing streak and improved to 4-10 on the season.

It was quite a comeback for the senior from Brigantine. Of course, Taggart has been down this road before. She missed almost her entire junior season after surgery in November 2012 to repair a torn labrum in her hip.

“I had already had knee problems from field hockey, and then my hip started bothering me,” Taggart said. “I just kept playing with it, because I didn’t know what else to do. It just kept getting worse and worse.

“They said it was torn all the way off the bone. They had to anchor it back on and everything. It was pretty bad.”

Taggart endured nearly six months of recovery and rehabilitation – including physical therapy exercises three times a week – before returning to the softball field late last season. She also played doubles on the Atlantic City tennis team last fall. “Tennis is more of a fun thing for me, but I’m competitive, so nothing’s really just for fun,” she said.

“She worked real hard in the off-season to get back,” said Atlantic City head coach Jason Grimes. “She deserves a lot of credit.

“She’s our leader. She was well on her way to being our career leader in wins, strikeouts and complete games before the (latest) injury.”

Taggart said hip strength plays a very important role in softball. “A lot of lower body goes into pitching,” she said. “Hip injuries are more and more common for softball, surprisingly. The shoulder and the arm are good, as of now, knock on wood. Pitching in softball is a more natural motion than baseball. I always pitch every game, and people always say, ‘How do you do that?’ I just do it.”

Atlantic City had an experienced, senior-laden team until injuries forced several key players to the sidelines. In their absence, Grimes said several young players, including promising freshman Megan Master, have stepped up.

“I’d love to be there for the team and everything,” Taggart said. “As for the future, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m probably going to play in college, but I can’t say for sure where I’m going.

“It would be awesome to win some games as the season winds down. We have a lot of seniors this year so it would be nice to end our careers on a winning note.”

taggartpose Bill LeConey/Atlantic City High School senior Maddie Taggart from Brigantine.

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