Shelby Wisdom had a great junior season with the UC-Santa Barbara softball team. She finished with 22 wins on the mound. That combined with 24 wins in her sophomore season made her the first Gaucho to ever record two 20-win seasons.
Plus, her 63 career wins made the 2011 Elk Grove High School graduate UC-Santa Barbara’s winngest pitcher of all time. Her 247 strikeouts in 2012 is also a school single-season record.
In addition to that Wisdom led the Gauchos in 2014 with 30 RBI’s, seven home runs and 19 extra-base hits.
She couldn’t wait for her senior season in 2015.
But, something happened in June of 2014 that put a damper on the prospects of another outstanding season both on the mound and at the plate.
“I woke up one morning right after school ended and my (right) elbow had a sharp pain in it,” Wisdom recalled. “I thought I just slept on it funny. My sister was visiting me and we went to the beach. There I told her, ‘Dude, something’s wrong with my elbow. I can’t throw.’”
She tried to pitch and it was a stabbing pain every time she tried to throw. The doctor told her it was a ligament, not to throw for about two weeks and she’d be okay. However, it didn’t help.
“I tried to pitch again and it was worse,” Wisdom said.
This time when she visited the doctor an MRI was performed and the prognosis wasn’t good – she no longer had cartilage in her elbow. The reason?
“It was from overuse,” Wisdom was told by the doctor. She pitched all conference games for UC-Santa Barbara in 2014 and most of them in 2012 and 2013.
Even with surgery, Wisdom was told, it would be well over a year before she could pitch again and then she likely wouldn’t be able to be anything close to the high-level of pitcher she had become.
“When I was told I couldn’t pitch anymore it was just heart-breaking,” she said. “That’s the one thing I love about softball is being in control, in the circle. Then being told I couldn’t do that. I’ve never had that happen to me.”
Earlier this year Wisdom tried to play in the field, but that was short-lived.
“Coach told me she’d put me in the outfield and I could just lob the ball back in the infield,” Wisdom said. “Well, that wouldn’t work because any athlete, an outfielder, who wanted to throw out a runner at the plate wouldn’t just lob it in. The first time I tried to throw from the outfield I felt something pop in my elbow and my hand went numb.”
|Shelby Wisdom, UCSB's career wins leader
That happened in early March. Another MRI followed and she had torn her UCL, a key ligament in the elbow.
This serious issue with her throwing arm hasn’t stopped Wisdom. She’s been in the line-up in 41 of the Gauchos’ 46 games this spring as the designated hitter.
And, she has some pretty good stats, too.
Right now she’s batting .289 with a team-high seven home runs and is second on the squad with 28 RBI’s. But, without Wisdom in the circle the Gauchos have suffered as a team. They are 15-31 overall and only 2-11 in the Big West Conference.
Swinging the bat hasn’t been easy for Wisdom this season, either.
“It still hurts,” she admitted. “I’m batting inconsistent, it’s on and off.”
Wisdom hopes to see an end to all the pain in his right arm in the near future. She will have surgery May 18th on her UCL in the elbow. Doctors will use a tendon out of her leg doing a graft reconstructive surgery.
When she found out the extent of her injury, one of the first phone calls she made was to her best friend, Ally Carda, who is having another great season both in the circle and at the plate for UCLA.
“She has always been there for me,” Wisdom said. “She’s always asking me how I’m doing.”
Carda led Pleasant Grove to the 2009 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship. The two friends pitched against each other in high school, the most memorable being a 21-inning dual before Elk Grove beat Pleasant Grove, 2-1,during the 2010 season.
Last year Carda was the Pac-12’s Player of the Year after going 32-5 with a 1.90 ERA, striking out 230 in 220-and-2/3rds innings.
Wisdom knows her playing days are likely over, but she won’t quit coming to the softball diamond.
“”Hopefully, I’ll be coaching some softball,” she said.
She graduates next month from UC-Santa Barbara and will return to Elk Grove hoping to very soon thereafter and enter nursing school.