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Ford City pitcher Markilinski wants to end career with one more win

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 12:06 a.m.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
Ford City senior pitcher Andrea Markilinski delivers a pitch during her team's Section 3-AA win on Thursday, May 2, 2013, at West Shamokin. Markilinski missed more than two weeks of action with a concussion this season but has a 3-3 pitching record since returning for the Sabers.
Matt Grubba | Leader Times
Ford City senior pitcher Andrea Markilinski delivers a pitch during her team's Section 3-AA win on Thursday, May 2, 2013, at West Shamokin. Markilinski missed more than two weeks of action with a concussion this season but has a 3-3 pitching record since returning for the Sabers.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Nationals' Danny Espinosa celebrates his two-run home run in front of Pirates catcher Michael McKenry during the fourth inning Sunday, May 5, 2013, at PNC Park.
Reuters
The Penguins' Chris Kunitz (14) celebrates his overtime goal with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin during Sunday's game against the Islanders.

Ford City pitcher Andrea Markilinski started the season hoping that her senior year would end in the playoffs.

The playoff dream was not to be, but after being forced to watch her team from the dugout for two weeks, Markilinski is grateful just to spend her final games in the circle for her teammates.

Markilinski is scheduled to make her final start for the Sabers against Jeannette on Monday, which will be the senior's seventh straight start since coming back from a concussion suffered in an off-field accident in early April.

For Ford City to lose its No. 1 pitcher and one of its four seniors was a blow to the team, but no one was more upset by the injury than Markilinski.

“It was awful. It was the worst experiences I've ever had to watch my team play and know that I couldn't be out there,” Markilinski said. “I actually hit my head on the bus. It was one of those things where I just thought, ‘Why did I do that? How did that happen to me?' That's just my luck.”

The injury ended up causing Markilinski to miss only four games; she benefitted from weather-related postponements while she was out.

Her teammates, including freshman No. 2 pitcher Jess Jubec, also responded well without Markilinski. They won the games they were expected to against teams trailing them in the standings, and their only loss in that time came to Section 3-AA champ Deer Lakes.

“They did really well while I was out. I still wanted to be out there, and now I'm just happy to be back,” Markilinski said.

The Sabers were at their strongest with Markilinski in the circle, however, and their coach was eager to get her back in action.

“It affected us big time to lose our No. 1 pitcher,” coach Bill Richard said. “We turned to a freshman, who is a good pitcher also, but we missed (Markilinski). When she's on, she can really hit her spots, and when she wasn't here, it was tough.”

Markilinski went through a standard procedure for concussion recovery during her two weeks out. She first had to go through a rest and recovery period, with a focus on making sure she was well enough for work in the classroom, before she was able to resume physical activity.

“I wasn't allowed to do anything for a week after it happened,” Markilinski said. “Then to get back, my trainer had me running and slowly getting back into physical activities before I started pitching again.”

When Markilinski finally returned, it was for a crucial pair of games against Burrell and Freeport. The Sabers scored only three runs and were unable to win either of those contests, which ended their playoff chances. But Ford City then rolled off three straight wins — all with Markilinski in the circle.

The senior pitcher is 3-3 since coming back from the concussion and will go for one last win Monday. Most importantly, she will enjoy her final game on the Ford City diamond with her three senior teammates: shortstop Jenna Wolsonovich, third baseman Paige Klingensmith and first baseman Brooke Stitt.

“We're trying to enjoy what's left. We've been playing together forever, so we want to enjoy that and help the other girls get ready for next year,” Markilinski said.

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