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Athlete Spotlight: Centralia Slugger Kylie Sharp Rehabs During Isolation

Centralia High School senior Kylie Sharp was one of the top returning hitters in the 2A Evergreen Conference before the season was put on hold. (Jared Wenzelburger / jwenzelburger@chronline.com)

Tigers: Centralia High School Star Shortstop Was Poised for Big Season

By Eric Trent / etrent@chronline.com

When Centralia senior Kylie Sharp sprained her ankle during the Tigers’ third softball practice this spring, she knew she’d be out for a while. She had no idea it’d be much longer than the four weeks the doctor eventually told her. A pandemic had other plans.

On March 13, two days after finding out she’d be sidelined for a month, Gov. Jay Inslee ordered the closure of all K-12 schools in the state from March 17 to at least April 24, turning Sharp’s four-week injury into a six-week hiatus, and likely much longer.

Sharp, a multi-sport athlete for the Tigers, was primed to light up the 2A Evergreen League this year. She was chosen for The Chronicle’s All-Area team last season as a junior and was also a EvCo second-team selection. The shortstop batted .535 with a .411 on-base percentage, tallying 30 hits, 19 RBIs, 23 runs scored, two home runs and three doubles.

Instead of smashing riseballs, she’s now nursing an ankle injury and hoping schools open back up before her senior season is lost forever. Until then, she’s working on herself.

Sharp sprained that same ankle twice this past winter during basketball season, and twice shrugged it off. She isn’t one to complain and a bum ankle isn’t enough to keep her on the bench.

“I didn’t want to ditch on my teammates and I wanted to finish because it’s my senior year,” Sharp said.

Centralia’s Kylie Sharp fields a grounder on Wednesday. (Jared Wenzelburger / jwenzelburger@chronline.com)

Problem was, it never completely healed. During that third practice, she went to field a grounder, the ball took a bad hop and she twisted her ankle. She can still hear the loud pop. It dropped her to the ground and coach David Orr had to carry her off the field.

“I hit the floor and didn’t get back up,” Sharp said. 

She went directly to the emergency room and was placed in a boot. Her first orthopedic doctor put her in a cast, saying she’d be out six weeks and would likely need surgery. Fearing the thought of losing a month and a half of her senior softball season, Sharp went to another doctor for a second opinion. He took her out of the cast, put back in the boot and an ankle brace and told her she’d be out for four weeks. He then referred her to physical therapist Todd Gentzler in Chehalis.

Two days later, Gov. Inslee closed all the schools in the state.

That day, Sharp went down to the blockhouse near the softball and baseball fields after the final bell rang at school. She and her teammates had all heard school would close for a minimum of six weeks. They were wondering what that meant for practice, holding out hope for the best. The coaches broke it to them that practices and games were also canceled.

“Everyone was just kind of quiet and the energy was really low and kind of sad,” Sharp said. “The baseball boys were outside the blockhouse crying. Everyone was crying. It was definitely a sad day.”

Centralia’s Kylie Sharp was selected to The Chronicle’s All-Area Softball Team last year as a junior. (Jared Wenzelburger / jwenzelburger@chronline.com)

She didn’t bemoan long. Since then, she’s been rehabbing with a Gentzler three times a week, and at home she performs ab workouts and keeps her throwing arm fresh by playing catch in the yard.

“It’s been nice to have the time to heal,” Sharp said. 

Sharp had planned leading the Tigers on unofficial workouts before Gov. Jay Inslee issued the stay-at-home order on Monday, March 23. The team had one get-together where they ate dinner and then went outside to play catch. There, Sharp handed out a schedule to her teammates with plans for the workouts — a schedule that would never be put to use. Two days later, the stay-at-home order was sent out.

“It’s been tough thinking I don’t get to finish my last season of fastpitch, but I’m trying to be positive about it and think it could be worse for others,” Sharp said.

Even though her high school career could be over, she’s looking forward to her freshman season playing for Centralia College softball. She signed her letter of intent on Dec. 12, 2019, the same day that her boyfriend, Derek Bearisto, also a Centralia multi-sport star, signed with Centralia College baseball.

Kylie Sharp batted .535 with a .411 on-base percentage last season as a junior. (Jared Wenzelburger / jwenzelburger@chronline.com)

Though she’s also a standout basketball and volleyball player, softball is where her heart is. It helps that her family has a history with the game. Her grandpa, Bill Lohr, was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a left-handed pitcher before a career-ending leg injury in the minors. He went on to become a scout for the Minnesota Twins for 21 years. Sharp, herself, has been playing softball since third grade.

Her most formidable strengths  in softball, however, aren’t on the diamond. They are signified by lifting up her teammates when they’re down, being a positive influence and keeping the energy up in the dugout. And not being able to play and hang out with those teammates is motivating her now more than ever.  And she’s not taking anything for granted.

“You never know when your last game, your last practice might be,” Sharp said. “This whole virus thing, and then even getting injured, showed me that.”

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