By Jeremy McDonald
DALLAS, Ore.— Something was up with the right shoulder of Dallas’ Morgan Dippel going into her Junior year of High School. She knows her throwing mechanics aren’t necessarily the best, but is something she has been conscious about since the outfielder was little.
The injury in question occurred sometime between the Dragons playoff run to the 5A State Championship Game and during Summer Softball, but it wasn’t until after Fall softball that Dippel found out she was playing on a torn labrum.
Labrum injuries can hamper athletes. Surgeries more than likely can change the course of trajectory of an athlete’s career if not end it. But doctors told Dippel that she could play on it, but there’ll be some pain with it and she’ll need to make sure that joint is loose and warmed up before she starts throwing.
“My coaches and teammates helped out a lot through fall. My coaches always made sure that my shoulder wasn’t hurting and if it did, they would give me different drills to do so I could keep practicing and I wouldn’t have to sit out,” said Dippel. “All of my teammates are all supportive if I had to sit out because my arm was hurting and they all would support me if I had to maybe sit out of part of a game because it hurt to play, they would all be behind me.”
Dippel spent this past Fall playing with the Dallas Lady Dragons 16U squad, slowly getting back into it and testing out the shoulder before what is hoping is her final season in a Dallas uniform this Spring. Playing with some of the up-and-coming ballplayers in the Lady Dragons High School program after spending the Spring and Summer just working on her swing and working.
There were some nerves and some worrying thoughts as Dippel put the shoulder to use in the outfield. Initially getting down on herself as her throws weren’t as strong as they were, but the confidence increased as she adjusted to her new normal around the injury.
“In the beginning it sort of hurt my pride because the throws where I could normally make from the outfield to home I now needed a cut off for,” Dippel starts. “But as Fall progressed I mentally started realizing that that’s what your team was for, to help you in these situations, and I started to become more comfortable with the idea of use if help getting it to home.
“Before fall I was always trying to make it a straight shot home no matter what, but now with my shoulder a relay is the best bet.”
The time away from the game, stemming from the Coronavirus Pandemic canceling her Junior Season that allowed her not to rush back and allowing some form of healing to the shoulder, has helped her appreciate the game. Helping her realize how much the game means to her and knowing the next game isn’t guaranteed and the one you’re playing in now could be it.
Sharing her freshman year with her older sister Jordan, who was a Senior when Morgan was a freshman, was something she was glad happened for her. The State Championship the following year was an experience she’ll never forget wearing a Dallas Dragons uniform as the Dragons finished State Runner-Up against Ridgeview.
“This program has brought me many, many great memories and friends and I can’t imagine what would have happened if I didn’t play during high school,” Dippel said of playing for Dallas. ““Being able to wear this uniform and play with this team has been one of the best parts of my high school experience honestly.”
The Lady Dragons 16U squad went 17-7 over the Fall in the 24 games they had played. Playing with the younger girls coming up was an amazing time and Dippel is excited to see how they develop once in the Dragons High School program this year and moving forward into the six-week season in March.
“I had an amazing time playing with the younger girls this fall. It was really cool to see what the next few years will bring for high school, and it was really cool to help them get prepared for drills and other things that we do in high school so that it hopefully won’t be as stressful and nerve-racking once high school ball rolls around,” she said. “I tried to give them as much softball knowledge as I knew, but it was mostly helping out the outfielders with different situations and different plays that might happen during the game.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald