2017 marked the year that the softball team captured its first Division III National Championship in program history. After such a successful season, returning players got the chance to defend their National Title and prepare with that distinction under their belts. However, Kaylah Duplain had to put away the glove and cleats for her sophomore season, as she was unable to play because of an undiagnosable stomach issue and a torn labrum in her hip.
“I was happy for them but it was really hard not being out there because I’ve played since I was like four years old, so it’s all I’ve ever known,” Duplain said.
Duplain is a member of the class of 2020 along with All-American pitcher Hanna Hull and 2018 All-ODAC player of the year Madison Glaubke. All three made a significant impact in their freshman season as starters, Glaubke in left field, Hull at the mound and Duplain at third. In this first season, Duplain found success on the offensive and defensive end as she logged 25 RBIs and a .277 batting average, as well as a .949 fielding percentage. Her efforts earned her a spot on the All-ODAC First Team and All-State Second Team.
“I didn’t really know ‘Dup’ before she came here and once she started playing a little bit I realized that one, she’s got an amazing glove and two, she’s going to get the job done,” senior teammate Beth Ford said.
In the midst of all of these accolades, Duplain found herself with a painful stomach issue that she could not find the answer to.
“I lost twenty pounds from junior year of high school to college, and every time we traveled I lost five pounds because I couldn’t eat the food there,” Duplain said.
Duplain explained that throughout her freshman season she struggled finding things that she could eat without upsetting her stomach. Even after thousands of dollars of tests, the doctors were never able to give her a clear diagnosis on what was causing this discomfort.
“I wasn’t able to eat anything fried, anything with a bunch of sugar, no dairy. I couldn’t have any gluten… to simplify it, I ate chicken, rice and broccoli, that’s literally all I ate, and I had some peanut butter and banana every once in awhile but on my bad days I couldn’t even eat that,” Duplain said.
Through Duplain’s battle with losing weight and finding foods that she could eat, she eventually found a supplement that lessened her pain and allowed her to eat more regularly, although she still had her bad days. Around March of 2018 she told head coach Brandon Elliott that she could come back to play. Then, only two weeks went by before she was sidelined again.
“About two weeks later I found out that I tore my labrum and I played on it my entire freshman year…so then I got hip surgery on that, and that kept me out until this past December,” Duplain said.
Now, in addition to adjusting to new eating habits, Duplain had to get back into shape after undergoing hip surgery. She prepared by building up as much muscle as she could before the surgery to overcompensate for what she would lose post-surgery. Duplain said that the hardest part of her recovery was trusting her hip again, especially while cutting at shortstop.
As of January 2019, Duplain is fully cleared to play once again. Back in time for the start of the 2019 season, she did not miss a beat from her freshman year. On March 8, in the team’s first home game of the season on the new Tom and Betty Broyles Field, Duplain hit a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning to increase the Marlin’s lead to 8-0. This was the first homerun on the new home field.
In addition to the team’s 9-0 record thus far, this season Duplain has batted in six runs, drawn six walks and has an on base percentage of .444.
“She’s the kid we thought she would be, so we just continue to hope that she stays healthy,” Elliott said.