Nicole Ericson had dreamed of the at-bat for more than a year.
Last Monday, exactly 11 months and three weeks removed from the surgery that cost her the entire 2013 season and 22 months after her last game for Andover High, Ericson stepped to the plate for the at-bat she had played out countless times in her head.
“I definitely had the jitters,” she said. “I was very anxious. I swung and it just felt amazing. I could feel that it hit the sweet spot of the bat, I saw it fall in for a hit and all these emotions came rushing to me. I was so excited and so happy.”
After all of the pain, all of the rehab and all of the waiting, Ericson was back.
In February 2013, Ericson suffered a torn ACL while competing for the Andover ski team, requiring surgery that meant the end of her junior softball season.
So when the spring arrived this season, nothing was going to hold the now-Golden Warrior senior tri-captain back.
“She has fire in her eyes out there,” Warriors coach Steve Tisbert said. “It was awful for her to miss last season. She was a great leader, but it hurt her. It was a long, long process to get back, but now that she has, she can’t wait to play and she wants to excel.”
Ericson has been in the lineup for each of Andover’s first four games this season, either in the outfield or as designated hitter, including a 2-for-2, three-run day against North Andover.
“All Nicole wanted last year was to be out there with us,” said Mimi Olney, one of the other tri-captains along with Laura McNaughton. “She is so great to have on this team because she is so positive, knows the game so well and is a great hitter.”