By Thomas Sellers Jr.
As the public address announcer called out the six Munford Lady Cougar seniors for the starting line up, he described their future plans.
Among those recognized April 29 on the Munford Softball Field was Sami Jo Schulz. The future Memphis Lady Tiger ran to her shortstop position for what would be the last time as a Lady Cougar.
“I recently found out I have sciatica and a herniated disk in my back which I’m not allowed to play on,” Schulz said. “But Coach Goulder wanted me to be a part of Senior Night. So he let me go out. And after the first pitch, they all hugged me and I walked off with a tear.”
Glenn Goulder penciled his senior leader into the lineup one last time. And after her fellow 12th grader Alex Stanford fired in the first strike against the Millington Lady Trojans, all the Lady Cougars gathered in the pitcher’s circle to thank Schulz and embrace her.
“It’s really tough not to get to play your Senior Night,” she said. “But I’m getting used to not playing my senior year. But I’m glad they’ll have Jodie to take my spot. She’s just as good if not better.”
After finally hugging her fellow senior, catcher Jessyca Baker, Schulz headed to the dugout to take a seat. Jodie Duncan returned to shortstop, a position she’s been playing most of the season since Schulz’s injuries started to plague her.
What started off as hip pain started to spread toward her back. On April 25 doctors diagnosed the former Best of the Preps Softball finalist with sciatica and a herniated disk.
Sciatica is a set of symptoms including pain that may be caused by general compression or irritation of one of five spinal nerve roots that give rise to each sciatic nerve, or by compression or irritation of the left or right or both sciatic nerves.
Symptoms include lower back pain, buttock pain and pain, numbness or weakness in various parts of the leg and foot. Other symptoms include pins and needles or tingling and difficulty in moving or controlling the leg.
Schulz endured the pain to save two weeks of her senior campaign. She helped the Lady Cougars pick up a win over the rival Brighton Lady Cardinals and earn the top spot in District 13-3A.
But after one more run with her teammates, the pain forced another visit to the doctors. And the medical personnel told her to hang up her cleats for the rest of 2013.
“It’s been really tough,” Schulz said. “It’s hard to watch but I support them and everything. I hope they do great and they make it back to State. They don’t need me. They’ll be fine. I hope my support helps. I hope they get their butts into gear and get back there.”
The three full seasons Schulz played for Munford, she helped the Lady Cougars make history. In 2011, she was a key part of the first Munford Softball team to reach State. Schulz was no stranger to making it to State wearing the maroon, black and white guiding the Volleyball Lady Cougars in 2010.
In 2012 the Softball Lady Cougars returned to Murfreesboro picking up the program’s first win at State. Along the way, Schulz has racked up individual awards and honors including being nominated for Star Female Athlete of the Year twice.
“My career here has shown me I can do it and I made a lot of people who had doubts about me think differently,” she concluded. “It’s been really great to push it back into their faces. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I’m gratefuly Coach Goulder has had faith in me since my freshman year. If I helped this program in any way, I feel good leaving it where it’s at.”