UT's Henriott stages comeback for the ages
TAMPA University of Tampa softball pitcher Deanna Henriott was just happy to be back on the field. Making history was the last thing on her mind. But on Feb. 12, playing in her first game since May 2009, Henriott hurled a perfect game, only the second ever achieved in program history. In an 8-0 victory over Bowie State (Md.) in the season opener, Henriott tossed five perfect innings with 11 strikeouts, no hits and no walks. "I knew I had a no-hitter, but I didn't realize it was a perfect game until my coach told me," she said. "My defense was there for me, they had balls hit to them and I felt like my pitches were working. Everything was falling into place." It was the first perfect game of her softball career."I was so excited to be back, it didn't occur to me," she said. Less than a week later, in her second start of the season, Henriott tossed another no-hitter in a 5-0 win against Palm Beach Atlantic. It marked the first time a pitcher had thrown back-to-back no-hitters in school history. Considering she was told she may never pitch again, the start of the season has been especially special for Henriott. During a game her sophomore season, the former St. Petersburg Catholic High pitcher felt pain in her hip after tossing a ball from the mound. Initially, she didn't think it was serious."After I threw, something didn't feel right," she said. "I didn't know what it was." To the contrary, it was something that could change her softball career for the worse. Despite playing with the injury the remainder of the season, Henriott learned she tore the labrum in her hip and it would require surgery to repair. "I was told some people had not made it back from (that injury)," she said. Henriott underwent surgery in December 2009 and spent the next six months in intense physical therapy. She missed all of the 2010 season as a medical redshirt. "It was definitely a test," she said. "Sitting a watching (for a season), I realized how much I missed softball." On Monday, Henriott was named the Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Week for the second consecutive week. In three starts, she is a perfect 3-0 this season with a 0.00 ERA, 28 strikeouts and 10 hits allowed. "It finally clicked this past weekend that I'm finally back," she said. On the field, back where she belongs.
Nick Williams can be reached at (813) 259-7851