Portage teen perseveres through injuries to make it to Division 1 softball team

PORTAGE, Mich. — For Josie Muffley baseball just wasn’t for the boys, she said. It was for the girls too. Standing on the South Portage Little League fields brought back great memories.

“My mom brought me to baseball fields,” she said during an interview. “Kinda that’s where like my journey started was with baseball and just hanging around the guys.”

Josie played with boys for at least eight years, she said, which helped her become more a determined player on the field. She switched over to playing among girls when she fell in love with hockey. She got so good she earned roster spots on elite teams in Lansing and Detroit.

“I would have to travel there, 2-3 times a week to Detroit,” she said. “Two hours there [and]  two hours back on school nights.”

Josie had tournaments on weekends in Minnesota, Wisconsin and even Canada. Her mother Nancy took her to and from  games and practices.

“Getting home at 12:30 at night, never complaining, doing homework in the car,” Nancy said during an interview about her daughter. “And then a major injury happens.”

Freshman year, before state finals, Josie broke her ankle she said. She underwent surgery and got seven screws in her ankle. However, she was back on the ice in months.

“And then I had my broken back which followed a year later,” Josie said. “I got hit in the back into the corner and went head first into the boards.”

Josie broke her L3 and L4 in her spine and was forced to wear a back brace for three months, she said. She couldn’t feel her legs and in her darkest moments wondered if she’d ever walk again.

“I would work out three to four times a week,” she said. “And just going right from that to absolutely no working out, couldn’t even lift up a jug of milk. I was on so many restrictions.”

Josie had just completed physical therapy for ankle injury, four months prior, when she broke her back, Nancy said. It was hard seeing her daughter in so much emotional pain but she was determined to see her through it.

“‘Why mom? Why is this happening to me,’” Nancy remembered her daughter saying to her. “I don’t have a reason. You have to trust that God has a reason for this to be happening to you.’”

Josie said it was her faith in God that got her through that "brutal" time. It also helped her endure rehab after dislocating her shoulder during her junior year. However, after that, she hung up her skates for good.

“It wasn’t easy,” Nancy said. “Something guided her to do that and now we know what that is: her path was to be out in Tulsa.”

After leaving hockey, Josie returned to playing baseball with the guys. She switched over to softball when Portage Central’s assistant softball coach Brett Foerster asked her to play with his team time and time again.

“It was with my coach telling me like ‘hey you’re a stud baseball player but when you come over to softball it’s going to be a whole different level,'” she recalled him saying.

So she did. And she liked it. She even played on traveling teams. It wasn’t before long into her senior year that she was offered a scholarship to play Division 1 softball at the University of Tulsa.

“Once I started googling Tulsa and looking at there campus, I kind of just knew right then and there it was kind of the right fit for me,” she said.

Josie credits her family for helping her recover especially her brother Jordyn Muffley, who’s a prospect with the Tampa Bay Rays. She said he was her biggest inspiration, always helping her with her swing and fielding skills. Even though she misses hockey, she’s ready to move forward and make her family proud.

“I’m so thrilled,” Josie said smiling. “I cannot wait to head out there.”

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