April 6, 2020
In the second game of my junior year, I thought my season was over. It was early in the game against Lakeview, just a few days before we were set to leave for Florida for our first ever spring break trip as a team.
The batter floated a weak pop up into short right field. As soon as it was hit, I knew I was the only one who had a chance to catch it. I took off, my eyes never leaving the ball as I dove, extending my glove and snagging the ball just as it was about to drop in for a hit. What I didn’t know was that I wasn’t the only player trying to make that catch, and right as the ball landed in my glove, my face smashed directly into our first baseman Eli Caranci’s knee with the combined force of both of us giving our maximum effort.
I can’t really describe the pain. It was instant and blinding. One second there was nothing, and the next second it was all I could feel. Then something just as strong came up alongside it: fear. I was scared. Scared that my season was done. I was hysterical. As I sat in the backseat, I immediately threw up, and I tried as hard as I could to stay awake. I was terrified. I thought that there was no way I would play another game that season. I had never felt that kind of fear before, the fear that everything I had worked so hard for could be ripped away from me in one second.
After the collision, I couldn’t remember how many outs there were, what inning it was, if I had taken an at bat yet that game. I know now that there was a runner on second; but I only know that from watching the video days afterward. The thing I remember most vividly apart from making the catch is the song that was stuck in my head as I chased down the ball: New Level by A$AP Ferg.
At the hospital, I learned that I broke three bones in my face and suffered a concussion. When Eli’s knee hit my eye, it pushed backwards, causing three orbital fractures in my eye socket. I was lucky enough not to need surgery, and fortunately, the double vision healed itself in a week, and the blood that lingered in the whites of my eyes went away about a week after that.
I was basically in bubble wrap during spring break (no baseball, no swimming), but in less than 12 days, I was back on the field, wearing a lacrosse mask across my face. I didn’t miss a game. I was lucky.