WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – After a knee injury kept Champion sophomore Gabby Gradishar from the field last season, the last nine months without softball really started to eat at her.

“Ever since I got hurt, all I could think about is getting back on the field,” Gradishar said. “(For that first game) my nerves were up, I really wanted to hit and got put at lead off so I really wanted to start the game off on a good note.”

So, when she finally got the chance to return donning the Champion uniform for the first time in a varsity game, Gradishar unloaded everything she was saving up by launching a lead-off home run in her first at-bat.

“I felt it right off the bat. I hit it square on and just filled with a ton of emotions running the bases,” Gradishar said.

“You have to give her all the credit in the world, the girl works so hard in physical training and just putting in extra work to get that leg stronger than her other leg. I’m just so happy for her because she put in so much work and you just got to love a kid like that,” said Champion head coach Cheryl Weaver.

But Gradishar wasn’t done just yet — she took the circle for her first full start the next day and struck out 15 batters in a no-hitter while also blasting another homer.

“I just felt great from the start, from warming up, and I know my teammates were behind me cheering me on, knowing that it was my first game and really put me out there,” Gradishar said.

With the stable of players that Weaver, the legendary head coach for the Flashes, has seen over the years, she has high hopes for the rest of the season.

“The pitching seems to be what dominates here so it was great to have Gabby and hopefully she could keep up the tradition for us,” Weaver said.

Gradishar struck out 12 batters on Monday in a five-inning shutout as the Flashes improved to 3-1 with a 12-0 win over Labrae.