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Injury bug bites Co-Lin baseball

Phobias come and phobias go.

The Copiah-Lincoln Community College baseball team suffered acase of arachnidaphobia last fall when two players were bitten byBrown Recluse spiders. From there the injury numbers began tomultiply, resembling some form of deadly plague.

“It started with a small injury and then it just spider-webbedout,” said Co-Lin head baseball coach Keith Case. No punintended.

According to Case, at least 16 of his Wolves have been sidelinedby injuries of one form or another since last summer. Despite thedifficulties, Co-Lin has forged a 28-14 record and qualified forthe MACJC State Tournament which starts today in Poplarville, onthe Pearl River Community College campus.

“You don’t want to be superstitious about it,” Case stressed.”The injured list is longer than the healthy list. Spider bites andankle breaks are unusual.”

Two spider bites, no less. Freshman first baseman Jody Britt ofBrookhaven (Loyd Star), was putting on a jacket last fall. Thespider bite on his elbow swelled like a melon and he spent threedays in the hospital. This season Britt sustained a separatedshoulder and torn cartilage in a first base collision.

Not to be outdone, freshman catcher Guy Alleman of Bay St. Louisspent six days in the hospital from a spider bite. During theseason, Alleman missed some action due to a stress fracture in hisglove hand.

Sophomore catcher Diego Nucete of Caracas, Venezuela, suffered abruised kneecap and a stress fracture/ hyper extended thumb on hisglove hand.

Freshman pitcher/outfielder Joel Hurt of Clinton sustained abroken ankle last fall and it has healed slowly, forcing him tomiss the entire season. Sophomore pitcher Lance Deville of FranklinCounty sustained torn cartilage in his shoulder.

Freshman outfielder Ryan Williams of Wesson also had shouldersurgery. A freak accident in the fall saw freshman pitcher JustinSmith of Wesson take a line drive off his face during a practicegame. The baseball crushed his upper lip and knocked out his frontteeth. The injury required oral and plastic surgery.

Another strange injury. Sophomore outfielder Casey Ginn ofTylertown was hit in the face on a pickoff attempt at first base.Surgeons placed metal plates in his face and jaw. He has playedsparingly in recent weeks because his jaw is still wired togetherand he has difficulty breathing.

Freshman centerfielder Keeyon Sanders of Baton Rouge is thelatest casualty. After coping with a hyper extended wrist earlierin the season, Sanders developed a calcium deposit on his upper legbone, caused by a deep thigh bruise. He had caught an elbow on apickoff play.

Sophomore pitcher Cass Brister of Brookhaven (Loyd Star) hastorn cartilage in his shoulder. He’s still pitching but needssurgery at end of the season.

Freshman third baseman Justin Sykes of Brookhaven has ahyper-extended thumb on his glove hand. He’s playing taped up.

Sophomore pitcher Tyler Perrett of Jackson had elbow surgery inthe fall and has made a steady comeback, posting a 6-1 record.Another comeback is being made by pitcher/DH Cole Zumbro ofMeadville. He had Tommy John surgery last year and has pitchedwell. Zumbro was sidelined by a pulled biceps muscle during theseason but has managed a 4-2 record, .319 batting average and 4homers.

Freshman second baseman Patrick Williams of Crystal Springs andsophomore shortstop Aaron Guillot of Thibodaux, La., were bothhaving trouble with their shoulders during cold weather.

“We didn’t make infield or outfield throws before games to keepthe opposition from seeing we were having problems,” said Case.

Outfielder Vance Windham of Meadville is coming off shouldersurgery of two years ago. Last year was his medical redshirt. Hehasn’t fully recovered.

Last Saturday, making the short bus ride from Co-Lin toSouthwest, Hurt doubled up in pain as he stepped off the bus inSummit. Hurt suffered a severe kidney stone attack and had to behospitalized.

For home games, Case retires to his concrete block cubby holebehind the dugout. In the dim light he scans the roster andconstructs a lineup for the second game of the doubleheader.”Before each game, we try to put the puzzle together.

“In 21 years, I have never experienced injuries like this,” Caseadmitted. “I have had several players move around to differentpositions. They have persevered under difficult situations.”

Case said his players have a genuine love for the game ofbaseball. “These guys play hard and they practice hard. They are agreat group to be around. In the fall, we were pretty dad-gum good.We are still pretty competitive right now.”

Working overtime are Matt McClain, Co-Lin’s team trainer, andDara Moak, student trainer. Both have put in many extra hours inthe training room.

“Lee Dunaway and Johnny VanHoose down at the Human PerformanceCompany have really helped a lot,” said Case. “They have taken apersonal interest in our team.”

After all those ailments, the future must be bright. “Our guysset goals. Several of them already have set goals for next year,”said Case.