Softball beaning sidelines ‘Iron Woman’ Johnson |

Softball beaning sidelines ‘Iron Woman’ Johnson

David Gignilliat

For nearly 15 years, you couldn’t pry softballer Angela Johnson out of the lineup. Don’t even think about it. Sprained shoulders, ingrown toenails and a bevy of bumps and bruises tried their best, … but ultimately failed to sideline the durable South Shore athlete.

But Johnson, who starts at second base for Belmont University, finally ended her ‘Iron Woman’ streak last Saturday at the hands of one of the scariest injuries in all of sports – a beaning.

Johnson, who continues to lead the Bruins (8-3) with a .417 batting average, suffered the injury on the road in her first at-bat against the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. Batting cleanup, Johnson could not elude the momentum of a errant and speedy riseball thrown by Rebels pitcher Kari Ceriani.

The ball struck Johnson square in the face, fracturing three bones in her cheek and one in the orbit, or socket of her eye. Immediately following the injury, Johnson was rushed to a local hospital, where she received temporary treatment for her injuries.

“It was very scary,” said Amy Johnson, Angela’s sister and also a freshman teammate on the Belmont softball team. “I didn’t really know what was going on because she was at the hospital and I had to stay and play the rest of the game. It was a pretty uncomfortable feeling.”

Doctors later discharged Johnson from the Mississippi hospital and she returned to Belmont’s Nashville, Tenn., campus on the team bus. She was met later that day by her father, Jan, at the nearby Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she received additional medical attention.

Since the Saturday incident, Johnson has gone through a battery of tests – including CAT scans and X-rays – to determine the extent of her injuries. She has also met with area plastic surgeons, ear, nose and throat specialists and opthamologists for advice on her injury. Doctors believe that the bones in Johnson’s face were made soft by the impact, causing them to rotate and put undue pressure on nerves in her face.

Doctors will recommend Friday morning whether Johnson should proceed with surgery. Should Johnson elect to proceed with an operation, doctors will conduct what is termed an open-reduction internal fixation out-patient procedure to repair her multiple fractures. And if all goes well, a successful surgery may have Johnson back on the field in as early as two weeks, her sister said.

But Angela’s father hesitated to look that far ahead.

“Right now, we’re just concerned for her health,” Johnson said. “Certainly, it could be a career-ending injury, but we’re not really dealing with that at this point.”

The ball’s impact has left major swelling on Johnson’s face and internal bleeding in her facial tissue has resulted in discoloration. The injury has made Johnson’s face and teeth numb, making chewing difficult and forcing her mostly to liquid nourishment.

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