LINCOLN -- No one need convince Dax and Christina Moreton, of Summers, of providential benevolence.
By her own admission, Christina regularly carries on silent conversations and some not so silent with God during softball games involving the couple's daughter, Brinkley, a standout softball player for the Tulsa Elite NWA06 24-25.
This spring those conversations became more intense when Brinkley, a rising ninth grader at Lincoln, was admitted to Arkansas Children's Hospital Northwest in Springdale on April 29 after an ultrasound revealed a blood clot in her right arm, the one she pitches and throws with.
"Brink is not a complainer about pain and has been a pretty tough cookie her whole life, so when she kept complaining about her arm we knew something was wrong," Christina wrote in an April 29 Facebook post documenting the journey.
Beautiful For Situations
Christina's been fond of telling people "that's a God thing" when circumstances mysteriously work out in their favor or something that can only be deemed "miraculous" happens.
Little did she realize the value of clinging to her beliefs as a firm foundation in the midst of unexpected crisis while constantly looking for the positive, believing that in every place where she and husband, Dax, and Brinkley might set foot. As they journeyed together through physical challenges and an emotional upheaval no matter where they went their location remained relevant to faith.
This kind of confidence enabled Christina to perceive God at work in the minute details although her faith was being tested.
Doctors informed the family that Brinkley would receive shots in her belly to help dissolve the blood clot, an unpleasant treatment predicted to continue for the time being. When Brinkley emerged from an MRI, Christina noticed the radiology tech seemed pleased.
An appointment was scheduled with a hematologist the next day and the Moretons hoped they would learn what caused the blood clot.
The prognosis wasn't good. Brinkley was told she wouldn't be able to play any kind of sport with a ball this summer. The blood clot was caused by her pectoralis minor muscle with an official diagnosis pointing towards Paget Schroetter Syndrome, which constricted the flow of blood to her arm.
Brinkley was expected to be on blood thinners for at least six weeks followed by surgery to repair the problem, which could have involved cutting a blood vessel or muscle. Doctors said they wouldn't know what they needed to do until they got to that point.
Christina worried people might not comprehend Brinkley's commitment to daily investment into developing her athletic skills while regulated to a routine of taking shots twice a day in her belly with physical activity limited to running, bike riding and swimming, but no overhand activity.
"She's a tough kid physically but this is a lot to put on her mentally," Christina said.
Christina compiled a checklist of prayer requests, asking supporters to (1) Pray for the blood clot to dissolve, (2) Pray for Brinkley's state of mind and (3) Pray for Brinkley's travel ball teammates.
Through a church friend, Robin Thomas, of Russellville, heard about the challenges facing Brinkley and contacted the family on May 5. Thomas' 19-year-old son, a pitcher at a Division I school, faced the same medical condition and was being treated by Dr. Robert Thompson at St. Louis. The Moretons learned Dr. Thompson is one of a handful of doctors in the nation that specializes in treating the rare condition.
"After listening to her story, Dax and I agreed we needed to try to do better for Brink," Christina said.
Christina called Dr. Thompson's office and left a message the next day and by the time she was done her emotions had taken over. She wasn't sure she even left her phone number, but Dr. Thompson's nurse called back on Friday, May 7.
"Normally I think it's pretty hard to get an appointment with him, and most people wait days and weeks for just a phone call back," Christina said. "All I can say is God puts people in your lives for a reason and I'm pretty sure he's a softball fan too."
A decision was made not to schedule surgery at Arkansas Childen's Hospital in Little Rock, although that date had been moved up, and instead travel to St. Louis to see the specialist.
Viable Treatment Option
A week after the initial diagnosis, Brinkley's belly resembled a Henna Tattoo after taking multiple shots of blood thinners, which Christina disliked administering yet deemed a necessary evil.
On May 11 the Moretons met Christina's new online friend, Thomas, face-to-face for the first time at Barnes Jewish Hospital Center of Outpatient Health in St. Louis.
"This sweet lady didn't have to text me, didn't have to call me, and certainly didn't have to meet us tonight after sitting most of the day waiting for her son to get out of his surgery, but she did. I cannot tell you how many God things have happened for Brinkley in a matter of a week," Christina wrote.
"I'm here to tell you that God is still doing miracles and He most definitely has an angel here on Earth - Thank you, Robin Thomas,v for being one."
The connection would dramatically alter treatment for Brinkley.
The Moretons met with Dr. Thompson, who informed them he needed to do a venogram, an equivalent of x-ray of blood vessels, to get a look at the clot and assess the situation. He wanted to get all the facts straight and the procedure was scheduled.
In the initial meeting, Dr. Thompson provided an optimistic outlook, telling the family there was a possibility of not having to do any surgery and Brinkley would just be on blood thinners for a few months.
Christina admits she was skeptical at first because Arkansas Children's Northwest said there were obvious issues yet her prayers were about to be answered.
The Moretons took Brinkley to get her favorite meal of crab, then she was admitted into BJH known in St. Louis as "Big Barnes."
Barnes Jewish Hospital
Christina found Barnes Jewish Hospital huge, old, creepy in places and very busy with people. She took a wrong turn once or twice, yet posted, "We are here for a reason though, and God's got this," maintaining a sense of expectancy in her faith.
More good news came, medical staff mentioned putting Brinkley on an oral anticoagulant, which Christina felt would be a huge plus because of the pain endured as shots tended to burn Brinkley's belly.
"I have to brag on her because she is tough as nails and hides her pain well. They tried to pull blood from her six times before our favorite nurse got it," Christina wrote.
The Moretons dined out at a pizza shop in St. Louis with Dave Watson and Matt Pruett, coaches of the Missouri Bombers Gold 06, a team Brinkley played with earlier in the spring.
"Here's the coolest thing about softball -- relationships. Brink played for these guys a few weekends ago and they were so kind to meet us for lunch today. Sometimes you meet people for a reason too," Christina stated.
Pruett weighed in later that evening on social media, "As you know, we are all pulling for her and praying for a full and speedy recovery. So happy to be able to see Brink's smiling face and of course to chat with you two again while you were here getting her the treatment. She's a tough one and will come through this on the other side even stronger and better than she already is/was."
That prediction would prove prophetic.
Meanwhile, strangers across the softball community rallied around the Moretons, prompting Christina to comment, "I continue to be overwhelmed by the kindness of others and people reaching out to us that I don't even know."
One guy from western Oklahoma, who had seen Brinkley pitch in a 10 & Under tournament at Bixby, Okla., a few years back sent a message, "You don't know me, but I've kept up with Brinkley's softball success and I'm praying for her."
Home Front Activities
Back in Lincoln summer ball brought a neighboring team called "The Gypsies" from Prairie Grove to town for a game. After the game both teams came together and said a prayer for Brinkley as the story continued to circulate on social media.
Kelley Loftin's May 14 post celebrated the unity, "So thankful for these girls and so many others praying," as did a Shirley Spears post, "Oh, WOW, what a heart and what a testimony for the power of prayer for the world to see as they support one of their own sisters in sports. Love it."
Christina was moved monitoring those events on social media, posting a photo of a sign wishing Brinkley well.
"Softball people really are the best people. Sweet girls from Prairie Grove brought this to their game in Lincoln tonight," Christina wrote.
Friday, May 14, marked a major turning point in the saga.
Christina busied herself taking notes while Dr. Thompson went over Brinkley's situation. He really couldn't give an explanation or a cause of the clots, and said he wished his veins looked like hers. Dr. Thompson revealed he thought it was going to turn out differently, but he had no reasoning as to why things were so different than two weeks earlier.
"She will continue to be his patient and under his care; that alone is a huge relief to us," Christina said. "We are giving full credit to the Lord above for this. There really is no other explanation of all the things that transpired that led us to St. Louis."
The venogram showed no blood clots, no scarring, no compressions, no surgery needed now or possibly ever. Brinkley was switched to an oral medication and given Dr. Thompson's blessing to hit, pitch, play volleyball and practice softball with her team although he highly suggested that she not pitch for competitive travel softball due to the possibility of the ball being hit back at her.
"It's just dangerous at that level to be on blood thinners and be hit with a ball exiting a bat at a high rate of speed," Christina stated.
The Moretons walked out of Barnes Jewish around 5:45 p.m. that afternoon.
On May 16, Brinkley hit the batting cage at the family farm, working on her comeback, and two days later she returned to the softball field as a player.
Nearly a month later, on June 13, the Moretons started out their morning with a sunrise Bible study before Brinkley competed in a softball tournament. Brinkley's teammates matched her determination, battling through broken bones, cuts and bruises to finish third out of 56 teams at the 2021 Tulsa Elite Invite.
They encountered teams with 20 or more players on their rosters and no opponent listed less than 15. The Tulsa Elite NWA06 24-25 girls played without any reserves most of the week before losing to Texas Glory Naudin, a team they had defeated earlier in the week.
Texas Glory Naudin came in ranked No. 6 in the nation in 14 & Under and beat Brinkley's Tulsa Elite NWA06 24-25 in the semifinals before going on to win the tournament.
"These kids showed their heart this week," Christina said. "We beat several of the top ranked teams in the country before we just ran out of steam."
Brinkley continues to compete. She hasn't homered quite as often, but her parents are thrilled to see her back on the field. She celebrated her 15th birthday on July 7.
Christina expressed thankfulness for each act of kindness and support expressed during the ordeal.
"There are inadequate words for us to tell you all how much we thank you for the texts, calls, food, flowers, dog-sitting, hugs, but mostly for the prayers," Christina stated, "There is no possible way for everything to have worked the way it did for Brinkley without prayer."
Last weekend the Tulsa Elite NWA06 24-25 girls won the HFL summer championship going 10-1 in tourney play at Columbia, Mo. while beating teams from Kansas, Iowa, South Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri, and Indiana. Next up for Brinkley and her teammates is a trip to Viera, Fla. for Nationals.
TULSA ELITE NWA06 24-25 ROSTER
2024^Alyson Edwards^P/1B^Mansfield, Ark.
2024^Brayleigh Maxwell^SS/C^Clarksville, Ark.
2024^Kensey Rosson^OF/2B^Acorn, Ark.
2024^Taylor Nichols^C/OF^Greenwood, Ark.
2025^Ayrland Jiles^IF/OF^Sallisaw Central, Okla.
2025^Brinkley Moreton^P/IF^Lincoln, Ark.
2025^Lilly Oxford^2B/OF^Greenwood, Ark.
2025^Makenzie Freeman^P/IF^Hackett, Ark.
2026^Michaelyn Freeman^OF^Hackett AR
Head Coach Michael Freeman