It started out as a pain that McKenna Bull couldn't understand. There were stress fractures tiny cracks in her spine. She was pitching herself to the point of injury.
That was a year ago, though. After wearing a back brace for months and extensive physical therapy, Weber's star pitcher was ready to go by February. And once again, the Warriors relied on her heavily, riding her arm all the way to a Class 5A title this year.
"It really pushed me it motivated me to make it," Bull says. "My back still gets tight, but it's nothing like last year."
Bull was dominant in many of her outings this year, giving Weber the longest undefeated streak of the season and a Region 1 title. With her in the circle, the Warriors had 5A's top defense.
Coach Melinda Wade said after offseason conditioning and therapy, there was never any doubt that Bull would be the arm that the Warriors needed. She pitched nearly every inning the team played this season.
"She takes it more as a challenge, knowing the team is counting on her," Wade says. "I think it gives her a sense of pride."
When Weber dropped down into the one-loss bracket after falling to Copper Hills in the quarterfinals, Bull couldn't help but feel up against a wall at first.
But she and her teammates collected themselves, winning five games in only two days to win the championship. Bull felt weary in the final innings, and the Grizzlies were getting contact. But her Warrior teammates stepped up their offense in the end, helping carry her fatigued throwing arm the rest of the way.
The BYU-bound junior still has another year left. But at least this summer, she can savor the ring she already has.