SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The long and frustrating wait is over for Brooke West.
The Lincoln County junior pitcher, who was an All-State pick as a freshman in helping lead the Panthers to the 2011 Class AAA softball state championship, got her first win in more than 11 months Tuesday, beating South Charleston 6-3.
"It's just amazing to get back. I missed it so much," said West, who struck out 14 in improving to 1-1 on the season for the Panthers (2-1).
"The back injury that I had really put me down, but I kept going. I just love the team and I love to play ball."
West disappeared from the Lincoln County lineup after a 4-3 loss to Cabell Midland in the Best of the Best Tournament at Midland on April 16, 2012. West's doctors who treated her for scoliosis discovered she had no fluid around a disc in her lower back.
"I had fluid coming off it but didn't have any fluid around another. It just affects me," she said.
West missed the Mountain State Athletic Conference semifinals last year when the team lost to St. Albans. Lincoln County got past Hurricane in sectional play without its ace but fell to Cabell Midland in the Region 4 semifinals, ending the Panthers' run as champs.
The soft-spoken junior made her return to the circle Saturday, when Lincoln County took on defending Class AAA state champion John Marshall. She picked up a hard-luck loss after pitching nine innings.
Lincoln County came back that day to beat defending Class AA state champ Wayne, but West did not pitch against the Pioneers.
"I'm OK now," she said. "You've just got to be careful how you use me, I guess you'd say. I've got to go easy. I'm just glad to get back to pitching."
It was West's first win since beating East Fairmont on April 14, 2012.