The Bounce Back Megan Litumbe's Journey back from injury

February 14th, 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2016. A date that Georgia State softball's Megan Litumbe will always remember. In the final game of the season's opening weekend, the junior right fielder's collegiate career took a sharp turn.

It was a line drive hit right at me in the 7th inning. I was trying to decide whether or not to dive, but at the last second I decided to let it one-hop me. My cleat got stuck and I hyper-extended my knee.

Litumbe says she did not think it was that bad at first. Even when the team was in the airport waiting for their flight back to Atlanta that night, she felt she had just tweaked something.

The swelling got a lot worse when we boarded the plane. The pain intensified. That's when I started worrying that it was more serious than I thought.

At the doctor on Monday, Litumbe got an x-ray and MRI on her left knee. After a three-day wait, the doctor called Litumbe back in to explain the results.

Torn ACL, meniscus. Doctor said I basically blew out my whole knee. I couldn't believe it. I was shocked.
Litumbe had a three-hour surgery on March 23, 2016 to repair her left knee.
It didn't really sink in that I was missing the whole season until practice later that week. I was in the dugout watching my teammates and it sunk in. I just broke down right there in the dugout.

Entering that season, Litumbe was coming off a 21-home run campaign as a sophomore. It was the second most home runs in a single season in Georgia State history. After just two seasons, she already ranked sixth in school history with 31 career homers.

After spending six weeks on crutches, Litumbe began her long journey to get back in uniform.

It was nerve-wracking when I tried walking without crutches for the first time. I had to walk normal, I couldn’t limp because that hurts your muscle development. I lost a lot of muscle in my left leg. Our strength coach Jacob had special workouts for me to help regain strength in my left leg.

Litumbe watched as her teammates finished out the 2016 season, winning 30 games for the 10th year in a row.

It was difficult. I wanted to be out there with them on the field. One of my teammates, Kristin Hawkins, had been through the exact same thing the year before so she really helped me through it.

October 24th, 2016

Litumbe is cleared to begin softball activities, but not 100% cleared to return to full activity. Litumbe sits out during the team's fall season which players use to get prepared for the upcoming spring.

January 9th, 2017

330 days after her junior season was ended abruptly, Megan Litumbe is 100% medically cleared to play softball.

Opening Day this year, I had to wear a big knee brace. It was bothering me a lot and I was limping. I got one hit that game. Getting the first one out of the way was big for my confidence.
Feb. 17 - A year and three days after tearing her ACL, Litumbe hits her first home run of the season and 33rd of her career.
Getting my timing at the plate back was the biggest challenge. After my first homer, it was like alright, I still have it. The old Megan is still in there somewhere.

After hitting three home runs in the first 25 games of the season, Litumbe shifted into a different gear.

The home run numbers began to rise. Three in three games against Sun Belt-foe Appalachian State. Then another at Georgia Tech on March 29th. After homers in three straight games against UT Arlington and Kennesaw State, Litumbe found herself within two of the Georgia State career record.

At Coastal Carolina on April 14th, Litumbe launched her 42nd career home run, tying teammate Ivie Drake for the school record.

Ivie and I really push each other to be as good as we possibly can. It helps both of us and it helps the team.

In her next at-bat, she bombed her 12th home run of the season and 43rd of her career to grab the lead for GSU's all-time record.

From that point on, the pace that Litumbe was sending balls out of the park increased.

After three home runs in three games, Litumbe was honored by the Sun Belt Conference as the Player of the Week on May 2nd, yet another milestone on her comeback journey.

I wasn't sure how good I would be after the injury. Some people come back stronger, some people don't come back as good. I wanted to come back stronger and better than before.

As the team headed into the conference tournament, Litumbe ranked second in the Sun Belt with 18 home runs, just four short of tying the GSU single-season record and three short of tying her personal single-season mark.

Litumbe was one of five Panthers named All-Sun Belt at the end of the 2017 regular season.
One of my goals coming off the injury was to make All-Sun Belt. That was a really proud moment because I really felt like I was 100% back to my normal self.

Following the Sun Belt tournament, Georgia State was selected to the inaugural NISC Postseason Softball Tournament and was chosen to host the Region 5 bracket, giving Litumbe a few more games on her home field. She did not disappoint.

Litumbe hit two home runs to lead GSU past UT Martin and she added another the next game against Kennesaw State to match her single season-best 21 home runs. In the final game of the season, Litumbe would hit her 22nd home run, matching the Georgia State school record for most in a year and, in a way, capping off her long road back from the injury.

Litumbe's incredible year earned her national recognition as she ranked No. 2 in NCAA Division-I at the end of her season.

Seeing my name in the top-10 was a huge honor. But it ultimately makes me want to work harder. I have one year left now and I want to make it count. I want to help GSU get to the NCAA Tournament.

Litumbe says the play still pops up in the back of her head every now and then, but it's mostly gone away as the season went on.

I replay it more than I would like to, but it's part of my story. It's a good reminder to live in the moment and enjoy every second on the field. Don't take anything for granted.

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- www.GeorgiaStateAthletics.com -

Created By
Will Owens
Appreciate

Credits:

Daniel Wilson, Jeff Hurndon, Josh Thurston, Georgia State Sports Communications

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