Hansen overcomes season-ending injury, ready for 2018 campaign

Sara Hansen File

Just before the Central Michigan softball team departed for Florida to play games over spring break in 2017, Sara Hansen heard a noise she will never forget.

“I planted my foot the wrong way and there was a popping sound,” Hansen said. “I couldn't move (my knee) and I knew something was wrong.”

What the redshirt junior outfielder would later find out is she tore her ACL — forcing her to miss the entire season. 

As a sophomore in 2016, Hansen led the team with 14 stolen bases — tied for ninth in the Mid-American Conference. She earned MAC Freshman of the Year and All-MAC Second Team honors in 2015. 

Head coach Margo Jonker said it was tough to play without Hansen a season ago, but it’s great to reinsert the veteran back into the lineup.

“She was our starting center fielder and our best base runner,” Jonker said. “In a way she learned how to become a leader off the field as well and it has been helping our group this season.”

Hansen went through rehab over the summer. She visited with multiple trainers at CMU. Since she was a Mount Pleasant native, she had access to more physicians.

“I could come in and meet with our trainers almost everyday, we would do different workouts and training for rehab,” Hansen said. “I think that really helped because not a lot of people have that access.”

When the 5-foot-5, Sacred Heart Academy grad started practicing again, she tried to avoid the career-threatening injury. 

“I had been hearing a lot that it could tear again, but if that was going to happen it just would’ve,” Hansen said. “I just did what I normally did, I eventually got a (knee) brace in the fall but I didn't let it get to me mentally.”

Even though Hansen avoided a possible reinjury, that didn't mean she still had obstacles to overcome. 

“The biggest adjustment was bending my knee with the brace and learning how to slide with the other leg,” Hansen said. “As of power and speed, it didn't make much of a difference.”

Fellow junior outfielder Allison Curtis, who filled Hansen’s spot in center field for 2017, said she is thrilled to welcome her teammate back.

“It’s awesome — I love playing next to her and missed it a lot last year,” Curtis said. “She’s really good out there as a leader by action and our chemistry is good so it makes everything run pretty smooth.”

Hansen has started 19 of 20 games and posted a .245 batting average. She’s knocked in three runs, recorded 12 hits and added three stolen bases.

“Right now, I’m just focused on us as a team finding more consistency,” Hansen said. “We have little spurts where we play really well and some where we don’t. We need to find more of the good ones and bring that every game.”