Haley Higdon inspires, encourages with one pitch

Haley Higdon (

It's a funny thing. Life.

When one door closes, rest assured, another will always open.

16-year-old Haley Higdon has a better analogy for life..."softball."

A game of strikes, balls, home runs and strikeouts. It's her life, in a nutshell. But about a year ago, her life literally flipped upside down.

A car crash.

Doctors tried to save her right hand, but eventually decided it was best to remove her four fingers. Then, last fall, she got a mechanical, prosthetic hand that's valued at more than $110,000. It was donated by Hanger, Inc.

Since February, Higdon has been in rehab two days a week at Lakeshore Rehab Hospital.

"I haven't gotten to the point where I use it outside of home or therapy yet, because I'm not to that point," Higdon said.

But...she's almost there.

"I just want to be an inspiration, I guess, to other people," she said.

Soon, this teenager, who loves Mac and Cheese, math, purple and her dog...will inspire.

Rehab does more than strengthen muscles and ability. Hard work, a can-do attitude and a little laughter rebuilds what you lost, both physically and emotionally. It's what Higdon needed to get back in the game of softball...and life. It's restoring her passion and love for the game.

Saturday, that love hit the softball diamond.

It's what she's waited for, practiced for and yearned for. The teenager who hates being the center of attention took center stage herself to throw out the first pitch at the 2013 Opening Day for the Hoover Softball Association.

The pitch was a little high and a little outside. It was a perfect strike.

"There's something about that kid," Haley's mother, Judie Cummings, said. "She makes me really, really proud."

Cummings knows her daughter has been through what she has for a reason.

"I think God was preparing her for something," she said. "He's got something in mind for her because she's just been through so many hard things. She's just so strong."

Higdon says that reason is to encourage and inspire.

"And [children] might look up to me and make me their role model and if that happens to them I want them to know not to give up and to keep going," she said.

Higdon says you know when she's nervous because she constantly smiles. But, Saturday, the smile on her face was because of something else. It was a smile...of accomplishment.