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Healthy Bayer lifts Crystal River staff

By CAREY FREEMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002

CRYSTAL RIVER -- The question isn't whether Crystal River's Emily Bayer can post the kind of numbers she did last year at Lecanto.

The real unknown is whether she can do it for a full season.

"So far, so good," said Bayer, a junior right-hander who was sidelined for the final half of last season after experiencing numbness, tingling and sharp pain in her pitching arm.

"But I don't want to jinx myself," she said. "I'm sort of worried that it might come back."

To this day, Bayer is not sure what the problem was. Doctors determined last March that she was overusing her arm and put it in a cast for a week. But the problems resurfaced, and Bayer was not a factor on the mound again.

When healthy, Bayer was one of the area's best. Her earned run average prior to the injury was a county-best 0.78. Despite her shortened season, she led the area with 117 strikeouts.

Bayer says she hasn't experienced any pain or numbness since late last season and that the condition appears to have gone for good.

"I just relaxed and didn't do anything for a while," Bayer said. "It may have been the cold nights and stuff like that. I didn't have many breaks and, in the beginning, I was pitching almost every game."

She won't have that problem this year. Bayer will split the pitching duties with close friend and former Little League teammate Cassie Pearson.

Bayer transferred in the offseason when her family moved to Crystal River. It couldn't have come at a better time for the pitcher and her team.

Crystal River advanced to a regional semifinal last season, losing to Hernando, but lost pitcher Krystle Cummings, who transferred to Citrus.

The Pirates also return all but two starters and appear poised to make another run deep into the playoffs.

"I have a feeling we're going to do pretty good," Bayer said. "This weekend we did pretty good. We didn't get to play Hernando, but we won our other games."

Crystal River defeated Ridgewood (6-2) and Mitchell (21-3) in a preseason classic at Belleview, with Bayer and Pearson picking up victories.

"Hopefully I'll be able to do what I did last year," Bayer said. "I feel like I should, and I hope I will."

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