Back surgery is a scary proposition for any athlete, especially a power hitter in softball.
Doubt can begin to creep in. It did for Corona del Mar High alumna Lindsey Susolik, who had to have microdiscectomy spine surgery after her freshman year at Kenyon College in Ohio to repair a herniated disk.
"There were definitely some moments I doubted if I wanted to continue playing," Susolik said. "But I learned to swing a bat and play again. I did have some doubts, but I was optimistic that with time everything would get better."
Susolik had the surgery in May, 2013. Her doctors didn't even let her swing a bat again until more than eight months later, this past February.
Yet, Susolik's perspective paid off come spring. She has switched from catcher to mainly third base, in part due to her back, but she had a big sophomore year for Kenyon, a Division III program.
She was a first-team all-conference selection in the North Coast Athletic Conference for the Ladies (22-16, 7-9 in conference). She hit .346 for the season, upping that to .465 in conference. She collected 37 hits, tying for the Kenyon team lead, and led the team with 12 doubles.
Susolik had two home runs and 19 runs batted in for the season. Her OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .955 would have fantasy baseball players everywhere rushing to pick her up off of waivers.
The performance was big, especially coming after the surgery and after a freshman year when she hit just .274, which she said was disappointing.
"I struggled in preseason during conditioning and weight-lifting because of my back, so to be rewarded with a great season was really cool," Susolik said. "It was really gratifying."
Susolik, a two-time Newport-Mesa Dream Team selection as a catcher at CdM, returned home to Newport Beach for the summer. She is studying pre-law at Kenyon, and got a chance to intern at Callahan & Blaine, the law firm of her father, Ed.
"It was cool," Lindsey Susolik said. "You have the paralegals, you have the other lawyers. It just seemed very similar to how a softball team works. Everybody plays a part in [the success]."
Indeed, now Lindsey Susolik can worry less about her back, and more about just being a college student. She left Friday for Copenhagen, Denmark, a new place for her but one which she's excited about.
Susolik will be studying international law in a study abroad program. She said she also plans to play with a club softball team in Denmark.
Then, it will be back to Kenyon for her second semester in January.
Susolik said she is hoping for a big junior year, and it makes sense.
She's already shown that she can come back strong.