Kenzi Maguire, Gamecock softball shortstop, is making an impact in her comeback season with the team.
Maguire injured her wrist in the first game of her sophomore season, which forced her to miss the remainder of the season.
Maguire made her return to the field on February 9th. She is currently hitting over .400 on the season and she has reached base in each of the Gamecocks first 16 games.
The start of Gamecock softball has a special meaning for one player making her return to the diamond.
Kenzi Maguire, Gamecock sophomore shortstop, came into last season with high expectations after having an outstanding 2016 season that saw her hit .270 on the year. But Maguire says that even during her impressive season, she was still faced with adversity and challenges.
“I was actually playing with a torn hamstring all freshman year,” Maguire said. “I mean I thought I could have done better but with the circumstances I was playing in I thought I did well.”
In the first game of the 2017 season, Maguire was hit with yet another injury.
“It was in the first game at Texas,” Maguire said. “I didn’t think I was hurt I was just like, ‘Oh, I got hit in the thumb, its fine,’ then we get back and it was broken, I was like ‘what?’”
It was later revealed that Maguire suffered a wrist injury, which forced her to miss the remainder of the 2017 season.
Beverly Smith, head coach of Gamecock softball, says the loss of Maguire last season was a detriment to the team.
“We were down an athlete on the field last year is really what happened,” Smith said. “Not having Kenzi in the lineup we were down an athlete. Having Kenzi now we are more athletic. Having her as a lead off hitter is strong for us too.”
Even though Maguire was out of action, the Gamecocks were still able to reach the NCAA tournament for the fifth-straight season. As a result of seeing her team’s accomplishments, Maguire says being on the disabled list benefited her in more ways than one.
“It was really interesting to see how I could still be an impact even though I was not on the field,” Maguire said. “That I could still have my team’s back, I could still contribute in some way regardless of being on the field or off the field.”
According to webmd.com, typical wrist injuries can take eight weeks or longer to fully heal. Maguire says that the road back to the diamond was not an easy one.
“A lot of ice buckets,” Maguire said. “I was able to throw two months out of surgery, so that was pretty quick for someone who was in a cast.”
“The thing that I appreciate about her the most is her resiliency,” Smith said. “She has battled through injury to be here and she comes back stronger every time she just keeps coming back.”
Maguire had her return to the diamond on Feb. 9. She has reached base in each of the 16 games the Gamecocks played this season, and she currently has a .450 batting average on the season. Now a red-shirt sophomore, Maguire says she must embrace a bigger leadership role for the team.
“I definitely got to be more vocal,” Maguire said. “People definitely look at me to speak and I wasn’t used to that. So I’m out of my comfort zone a little, but I’ve adjusted and I feel good out there and people have confidence in me so that’s good too.”
“It’s really been on how you can lead the infield,” Smith said. “It’s not about how you play the position, she’s communicating with the outfield, communicating with the infield so it’s how you communicate with your infield. “
The Gamecocks are currently 15-1 on the season and are one of the top teams in the SEC. Maguire is hopeful her and her team can ride this early season momentum into the College World Series.
“I just want to play like I know I can.” Maguire said. “I know that I was limited freshman year and last year I was hurt so I just want to be me.”
“If Kenzi goes as Kenzi goes, she’s going to just keep improving,” Smith said. “So I’m super excited to see what’S her ceiling is going to be.”
The Gamecocks will be back in action on Friday as they take on Liberty. You can find the Gamecock’s schedule here: