Home News West Aurora’s Katelyn Serafin makes comeback

West Aurora’s Katelyn Serafin makes comeback

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Senior pitcher Katelyn Serafin is back, not to mention healthy, and looking to be the ace up the sleeve of West Aurora coach Randy Hayslett.

The right-handed Serafin, who had major elbow surgery 16 months ago, has returned to take over the role as the No. 1 starter for a pitching staff that’s a bit thin for the Blackhawks.

She confirmed that she’s at full strength.

“It’s fine now — it doesn’t hurt anymore,” Serafin said Tuesday morning, extending her throwing arm as if for inspection following another impromptu indoor practice.

Practice again had to be scheduled as West Aurora’s nonconference home date against Geneva was postponed by more inclement weather.

Two weeks and one day into the season, West Aurora (2-0) has played just two games, beating Waubonsie Valley 11-8 and Larkin 14-11.

Serafin has pitched in both, working eight innings and striking out 15.

“I don’t want to practice, I want to play,” grumbled Serafin, unhappy at having to cool her jets.

It’s something Hayslett said that he will have to do, too.

“I’m trying to be careful with Katelyn,” he said. “I want to limit her innings, ideally no more than half of what she might have thrown before the injury.”

Katelyn Serafin

West Aurora's Katelyn Serafin (14) pitches against Oswego during the Class 4A West Aurora Regional semifinals at Aurora University's Spartan Athletic Park on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

Mark Black / The Beacon-News

West Aurora’s Katelyn Serafin (14) pitches against Oswego during the Class 4A West Aurora Regional semifinals at Aurora University’s Spartan Athletic Park on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Mark Black / The Beacon-News)

Ah, yes, that injury.

Serafin burst on the scene as a sophomore, stepping up to lead the Blackhawks during their surprising Class 4A playoff run that ended with an 11-5 supersectional loss to Edwardsville.

Serafin (6-3) pitched strong late in the spring, including postseason and regular-season wins over powerful Yorkville as West Aurora won just the second sectional title in program history.

She continued with a strong performance through travel in the summer but had increasing elbow pain, eventually being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, which runs on the inner side of her elbow and helps provide support in certain throwing motions.

Serafin said she also had to have her ulnar nerve transplanted during the Nov. 21, 2022 surgery.

“They said basically six to 12 months, depending on the recovery, so that meant my whole junior season I probably wasn’t going to pitch in the high school season,” she said.

She beat the odds, however, returning to serve as the designated player to bat and then play some outfield in the second half of the season. She then pitched 18 innings in late May.

Katelyn Serafin

West Aurora celebrates with pitcher Katelyn Serafin (14) after she struck out the final batter against Oswego during the Class 4A West Aurora Regional semifinals at Aurora University's Spartan Athletic Park on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

Mark Black / The Beacon-News

West Aurora celebrates with pitcher Katelyn Serafin (14) after she struck out the final batter against Oswego during the Class 4A West Aurora Regional semifinals at Aurora University’s Spartan Athletic Park on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Mark Black / The Beacon-News)

Serafin believes throwing too many innings and relying too much on her screwball were factors leading to the injury.

“Throwing my curve and rise ball are more natural motions,” she said. “But throwing the screwball, you twist the elbow out.”

Serfain, who has committed to Aurora University, said the screwball is still in her repertoire but won’t have nearly as big a role.

Hayslett also has freshman Ally Lambert on his staff along with senior Brooke Roberts, who also plays outfield.

Piling up rescheduled games, making for a heavy pitching workload, worries him.

“This is the third year in a row we’ve played the first two games of the season then get to spring break and it’s a disaster,” he said. “It will be a struggle trying to play four games a week.

“I want to make sure Katelyn is ready to go at the end of the season and playoffs.”

West Aurora's Katelyn Serafin (14) reacts to cheers from teammates after driving in a run with a double during a Southwest Prairie Conference game on Thursday, April 13, 2023.

H. Rick Bamman / The Beacon-News

West Aurora’s Katelyn Serafin (14) reacts to cheers from teammates after driving in a run with a double during a Southwest Prairie Conference game on Thursday, April 13, 2023. (H. Rick Bamman / The Beacon-News)

She’s also a force in the middle of his lineup, hitting .364 last season with 10 doubles, a triple, four home runs and 17 RBIs in limited action. She also hit .358 as a sophomore.

Miami of Ohio commit Sara Tarr, a junior all-state shortstop who hit .495, is back. So are four seniors in their fourth year on varsity in center fielder Mia Malczyk, catcher/outfielder Mackenzie Fraus, first baseman/third baseman Ionicca Rivera and third baseman Vianca Juarez.

“I like batting in the middle of the lineup,” Serafin said. “I feel like I can drive in runs.”

Hayslett said she has a competitive edge to her.

“We could play her pretty much anywhere but catcher,” he said. “She’s always on the go.”



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