Julie Ham sat in a hospital room holding her daughter's hand and whispering to her husband, Jeff, when Holly Ham's bandaged head popped up and one of her big green eyes looked up at her mother with recognition Wednesday morning. Her left eye was swollen shut.
Holly, 17, a junior at Rockcastle County High School, is in serious but stable condition after being hit in the face by a line drive during a softball game Monday night. She underwent brain surgery at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital late Monday; on Wednesday she started breathing on her own.
Ham held up two fingers and wiggled her toes upon waking from a coma that was medically induced Tuesday. Doctors expect to remove her feeding tube Thursday.
More than 200 people have visited the Hams in the ICU waiting room, adorned with "get well" balloons, cards, stuffed animals and gift baskets.
Her parents are asking that the Kentucky High School Athletic Association make face masks mandatory for all players.
Holly, who usually plays third base, was filling in for an injured pitcher when she was struck.
What seemed like little more than a run-of-the-mill injury turned into a life-threatening situation within hours.
After coming home Monday, Holly felt nauseated. She wrapped herself in a blanket and sat on the bathroom floor. Within hours, she became incoherent and could not hold her head up.
Doctors initially told the Hams that their daughter would undergo extensive therapy and might suffer permanent brain injury. However, Holly is now expected to make a full recovery without the help of therapy.
"We give complete credit to the prayers," Julie Ham said.