Pritcher perseveres despite injury
James Island baseball player Austin Pritcher hoped for a signature season his senior year. But he will spend it on the sideline. He suffered a knee injury in the preseason and will undergo surgery on April 1 to repair a torn ACL.
"It's pretty disappointing," said Pritcher, who played pitcher and shortstop for the Trojans. "I was hoping for a big season for the team and me. But when I tore my ACL, I had to rethink everything. Now, everything is geared on schoolwork and getting the knee right."
Pritcher was primed for a big season after posting a 4-1 record and a 2.25 ERA last spring to earn a scholarship offer to The Citadel.
But he injured his knee in a scrimmage game against Bishop England in February. He was playing shortstop and collided with the left fielder as they tried to make a play on a popup behind third base.
"I tore my ACL, MCL and meniscus," said the right-hander. "At first, I thought I just sprained my knee and would be out three or four weeks. I had an MRI and they told me I completely tore the ACL. The MCL and meniscus will heal on their own. But the ACL will require surgery. After surgery it will be six months of rehab before I can be on the mound. So I won't be on the Diamond Devils this summer."
He helped the Diamond Devils traveling team win a wood-bat national championship last summer. He pitched for the team when it played in a national elite tournament at Wrigley Field in Chicago last September.
He signed with The Citadel on Nov. 13, the same day his brother Robert signed with the College of Charleston.
James Island coach Tom Hatley was disappointed his star player was injured.
"We've talked about the frustration," Hatley said. "He still comes to practice every day. He helps the younger pitchers. He helps us coach. He makes sure the kids are focused during the games and offers them advice. He does a great job."
The experience could help him in the future. Pritcher wants to be a teacher and coach high school baseball when his playing days are over.
"I just love the game," he said. "I want to share what I've learned."
Pritcher heads to The Citadel almost every morning to strengthen his hamstring and quadricep muscles and to get some of his leg motion back. He talks to Bulldogs head coach Fred Jordan and assistant David Beckley, and their message is clear: He is still wanted.
In the meantime, he'll rehab and attempt to raise his GPA, which is currently 3.5.