As a member of the SCISA AAA state champion Augusta Christian baseball team, Trey Crabill put fear into the hearts of many opposing pitchers.
In a batting line up that hit .369 as a team with 37 home runs in 27 games, Crabill hit .430 with 33 RBI. He led the team with 11 doubles and 73 total bases this year.
As impressive as the numbers are, the stats are only the tip of the iceberg. Crabill's baseball story starts at the age of 7, when he was a member of the Columbia County Lookouts.
"I was in the dugout, and I had a little cross that was in my bag," Crabill said. "I put it in my pocket with a Gatorade cap and played with it. It's been with me ever since - probably over 1,000 games."
Crabill took the cross with him to Baltimore, Md., where his family moved five years ago. With a 93 mph fastball as a sophomore, Crabill said he had plenty of big-name colleges watching including Duke, Maryland, and the University of Virginia.
However, the first year of Crabill's junior season, the dream of college and possibly professional baseball came crashing down in a tournament in Florida.
"It was our first game of my junior year," Crabill said. "I pitched six innings and had 13 strikeouts, but then I tore my rotator cuff."
The injury was at first overlooked as typical soreness after the first game of the year. Crabill said for three months he tried to work past the pain. Eventually exploratory surgery discovered that 48 percent of Crabill's rotator cuff had torn off.
The high school junior was told by doctors he'd most likely never pitch again.
While suffering through intense and monotonous physical therapy, the high school junior missed the entire baseball season. Crabill turned to the cross in his pocket.
"The rehab wasn't tough, it was just frustrating, but ever since I was 7, I had that cross and a Bible verse - Philippians 4:13," Crabill said. "It says 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' That's what got me through everything."
Eventually, Crabill recovered from surgery and his family moved back to the Augusta area.
After sitting out for a full year, Crabill returned to the diamond with Augusta Christian this spring. The Lions had heard of the pitcher Crabill used to be, but because of the rotator cuff injury, the senior was forced to play second base and contribute with his bat instead of his arm.
"We knew when he transferred back he may not pitch, but he was still a good player for us," Augusta Christian coach Craig Johnson said.
While playing most of the year at second base, Crabill still didn't completely give up on pitching.
After a few cautious workouts, the need came up for a reliever, and Johnson gave Crabill the go-ahead.
"I pitched three innings midway through the season," Crabill said. "I wasn't throwing as hard as I used to. I still have to get my mechanics down."
In his only appearance on the mound this year, Crabill struck out 4 of the 11 batters he faced and gave up only one hit and one walk.
Johnson said he could have used Crabill on the mound more this year, but with an eight-man pitching staff that held a 2.65 ERA, there was little need.
"We weren't going to overdo it with him and fortunately we didn't have to use him because the other guys stepped up," Johnson said.
Now with his high school career complete, Crabill said he's once again hearing from the same colleges that showed interest before his injury.
"They said they'd wait and see how I came back," Crabill said. "It takes persistence. Right now I feel like I'm 95 percent back."
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