Struck by a line drive, softball player recovers from brain surgery

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

The end of the high school basketball campaign was marked by heart tragedies. Now, for a second consecutive season, the start of the spring sports season has been marked by a tragic head injury.

Rockcastle County High School softball player Holly Ham
Rockcastle County High School softball player Holly Ham

According to the Associated Press, Rockcastle (Ky.) County High junior Holly Ham was struck directly in the face by a line drive during a softball game on March 27. The injury sent the third baseman to the hospital to take immediate measures to limit damage from the line-drive injury. However, after she was released from the hospital shortly after being treated, Ham returned home and began feeling dizzy, eventually devolving into a state of incoherency.

"Holly is at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital and is doing great," Julie Ham, Holly's mother told LEX18.com. "We would like to thank everyone for their constant concern and prayers for Holly. She is doing remarkably well and we credit all to the Lord along with the prayers and support we have received over the past week. Our family truly appreciates the thoughts, visitors and prayers, we are truly blessed. A special thank you to the doctors and nurses in the ER, Trauma ICU and UK Children's Hospital for their skillful, compassionate care."

Ham's parents had rushed her back to the hospital, where she underwent emergency brain surgery. The 17-year-old spent more than a day in a medicated coma, then awoke and began what doctors expect will be a long but complete recovery process.

The direct hit to Ham from a line drive conjured eerie similarities to one suffered by Gunnar Sandberg, a pitcher for Marin (Calif.) Catholic School. Like Sandberg, Ham was on the pitching mound when she was struck, filling in for an injured teammate. And like Sandberg, Ham's brain injures were initially feared to be long-lasting, with doctors questioning whether she could ever make a full recovery.

Now Ham's outlook is significantly more optimistic, though that has hardly kept her parents from advocating for permanent changes to Kentucky safety rules. As soon as Ham is released from the hospital, the Hams plan on advocating for mandatory facemasks for all high school softball players, yet another interesting parallel to Sandberg, who has returned for his senior baseball season with the help of a special pitching helmet.

Whether they are successful in forcing through softball facemasks remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: The Hams are incredibly relieved that their daughter's risk of brain injury was detected when it was, and that she's now on the path to a complete recovery.

"We give complete credit to the prayers," Julie Ham told the AP.

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