HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – The Tri-State has been taken over by fastpitch. Thousands of softball players and fans have flooded the area for the 2022 USSSA Softball Nationals.

“It’s just such a cool experience to be here and see all these girls,” said Claire Boyle, catcher and outfielder for the St. Louis Pirates. “I’m just having a lot of fun with my team as well.”

On Wednesday, the 16U St. Louis Pirates had quite the morning. Their pitcher threw a no hitter in a perfect game, winning 10-0. But the Pirates are unique for another reason. Pitcher and outfielder Lauren Knapp has a rare condition that affects her on and off the field. Diagnosed about four years ago, she has what’s called Functional Neurology Disorder.

“So when your brain sends signals to your body, mind messes them up and causes spasms that often look like seizures,” said Lauren Knapp. “They can happen at any time. Sometimes I have to run off in like the middle but I always try to wait for the end of the play.”

Lauren says she has medication to lessen her symptoms, but there’s no actual immediate way to make the episodes stop. She said she has breathing exercises she does to try to help her get through the innings.

“I can hear people, I just can’t see anybody,” added Lauren. “So I can hear people saying ‘take deep breaths, you’re okay, I’m right here.’ And then a lot of times they have to hold my body in place so I don’t accidentally hit my head or something or hurt myself.”

Lauren’s coaches have a big responsibility to watch after her at practices and games. “I’m always watching her,” said McKenna Joern, Pirates’ assistant coach. “Even if it’s like she’s just off to herself, like whatever she’s doing. Make sure she’s drinking water, make sure she’s staying hydrated, just keeping an eye on her. You don’t want to be overbearing to her. But you also don’t want to just forget about her and just say ‘oh, she’s gonna be fine.’ Because you never now since it can happen whenever.”

Joern said this team is rare because as many teams have drama, these girls get along all the time. Lauren’s coaches and teammates say she’s one of those girls that doesn’t let her disease define who she is.

“[When ]she passed out because the heat, she ended up passing out and she was unconscious,” added Joern. “She woke up and she was sitting next to the bench. And I was like, ‘You could have told us that you’re going to do this!’ She was like, ‘I just want to make sure I made it to the bench.’ So she knew it was happening. She just wanted to make sure that she was could finish the inning. She didn’t want to let the girls down. So she she puts on this persona and make sure that she’s okay. She just wants everybody else to treat her the same. She just wants to think that she’s just like everybody else.”

Lauren musters up the strength to push through adversity, play as hard as she can, and bring the excitement to the dugout.

“She motivates me,” said Joern. “I always want to coach better because she’s there. It’s so much fun to coach her. She’s so fun. She makes it fun to be here.”

“I think she’s just really strong,” said Boyle, Lauren’s best friend. “For just pushing through all this.”

And Lauren says although she struggles through this disorder, softball helps her get through it.

“I think it makes it better because then I have something to focus on,” added Lauren. “And it’s not all about my disease. It’s about how well I can do on the field and not how bad I could be off the field. And then it’s better because I have like 11 built in best friends on the team that helped me no matter what. So it’s easier.”