Oklahoma's Giselle Juarez Learning About Herself Through Injury
Giselle “G” Juarez remembers the “pop” that came from her left arm. As the Oklahoma ace walked into one of Arizona’s Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium dugouts, her prized weapon in the circle was immediately swelling.
“In that moment I was like, ‘Oh my God. I just tore it, I know I did. I know this feeling,’” Juarez told Softball America in a phone interview.
Juarez got an MRI afterward and it showed the unexpected. The bicep wasn’t torn. As a result, she continued to pitch here and there during the abbreviated 2020 season. At times, she even said it felt good, but she just didn’t feel like herself in the circle.
That’s why she elected to get surgery in March. It was then that Juarez learned that the MRI was wrong and there was in fact a tear.
Softball fans all wondered where Juarez was during the 2020 season before its abrupt end. The two-time All-American and 2019 Softball America Pitcher of the Year was used lightly by the Sooners, as she only accumulated 6.2 innings in 2020.
As much as Oklahoma wanted to get innings for the rest of its inexperienced pitching staff, the main reason behind Juarez’s lack of usage was her health. The left-handed pitcher was battling the bicep injury long before the season started. Juarez first noticed the pain during the summer after Oklahoma’s runner-up finish at the 2019 Women’s College World Series. She began to take weeks on and off to help with the pain through the fall and into the spring season. But eventually, surgery became the best option.
It’s been an offseason unlike any other for Juarez due to her injury and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there have been positives to it as well. In fact, the injury has helped her discover more about herself.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Juarez said. “It’s been nice to realize the passion I have for the game, and it doesn’t just stop because our season was canceled. It allows me to really realize I enjoy the game, I am doing this for myself, I’m not playing for anyone else but me and the glory of God.”
Now that Juarez is five months post operation, she’s started to go through walkthroughs for pitching again. One of her main focuses is trying to create power with her legs and use them more while pitching because she believes that was part of the cause of her injury. She’s also focusing on getting her body into better shape to handle the workload she'll have next season, which she expects to be similar to what she experienced in 2019.
“I don’t think I’ve ever pitched at that high of an intensity for that amount of time in a long time,” Juarez said. “It was a different type of shape that I needed to be in. I think it was a mixture of overuse and not using my legs properly.”
Right now, getting back to star pitcher form is Juarez’s goal, but once the 2021 season starts, her eyes will be set on one thing.
“Win a national championship,” Juarez said. “I know as a team that’s our goal. I think that we can’t take the game for granted, the moment for granted. I told myself last year before the season to embrace this year, it’s your last year of college ball. And that’s my biggest thing going forward.”