SOFTBALL: Schuerman Defies Medical Science

Defying all odds against a heavily favored team on the softball diamond is a team effort but for one member of Florida's sixteenth-ranked Gators The defiance of all odds against a heavily favored team on the diamond is a team effort, but for one member of the No. 16 Gators women's softball team (24-6, 3-0 SEC) defying medical science on her way to becoming team captain is an individual success story.

Senior pitcher Mandy Schuerman is plagued by a knee injury that has been lingering since high school. She has gotten medical opinions from several doctors, and the one thing on which they can all agree is that there is no logical explanation for her troubles.

"No one really knows what is wrong with my knee, and it still swells up to this day," Schuerman said. "It's given me a little bit of trouble this year, but I've managed to stay consistent in the line up."

Despite fracturing her right knee cap in her junior year of high school, Schuerman was a highly recruited prospect who chose UF because she felt it was the right place for her to be.

"Florida was the total package for me and I fell in love on my visit," she said. "More then anything it was the girls on the team and the atmosphere that sold me on coming to Gainesville."

Since stepping foot on campus, Schuerman has had an extremely productive career even with the knee injury that continues to flare up. She has played nearly every position on the field, owns the third-best best career on base percentage in school history (.395) and is a dominating pitcher with a 7-1 record and an ERA below 0.70.

Schuerman started all but one game her freshman year, tearing apart the league offensively. She was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Year and the team's Offensive Player of the Year after leading the team in six statistical offensive categories --- all accomplished the a very sore knee.

"The knee doesn't really bother me that much mentally when I'm out on the field," she said. "I get so much support from my teammates and everyone is so great to one another both on and off the field."

Named team captain her junior year, she spent the season playing the outfield, but this season she's once again assumed the dual role of pitching and playing outfield, happy she can contribute to the team's success.

"Each position brings its own little unique aspect to it, but I don't mind playing either particularly better," Schuerman said. "I think I've played almost every position there is to play out there so no matter where I am it's a lot of fun."

She's one of only four seniors on this year's team so leadership is an important role that she gladly takes on.

"Primarily, I like to lead by example in everything I get done, but I am always open to talk about whatever with my teammates," Schuerman said. "[Lindsey] Cam[eron] is the real vocal one out there, but leadership is one of my strong qualities that I try to show out there."

This year Schuerman is one of the aces of the pitching staff while providing one of the more dangerous bats in the UF lineup. She is hitting .300 and boasts the highest on base percentage of anyone on the team (.444).

"It has been a great start this year and I just hope we can continue it through the rest of the year," Schuerman said. "We should be able to because we are strong, healthy and really united."

Knee pains and all, Schuerman and the Gators women's softball team will return home next weekend when they face Ole Miss in a three-game SEC series.


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