|Austin Singer is all smiles after getting back into the lineup.
d3photography.com photo by Larry Radloff
By Erik Buchinger
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. -- When a broken ankle in late February threatened to wipe out his senior season, at least Trinity outfielder Austin Singer knew what he was in for.
He had dealt with this before.
During his freshman year at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., Singer broke his tibia and fibula, which required six screws to be put into his right ankle.
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“I was running for a fly ball over my head and caught it Willie Mays style,” Singer said. “When I turned to throw the ball to the infield, my foot stayed in the ground. My tibia and fibula snapped as I twisted.”
Singer had to go through a lengthy rehab to get back to full health.
“The bone almost came out of the skin, and it took me 4-5 months to start running again,” Singer said.
“I knew that I had to work at it because I love the game of baseball, and I wanted to keep playing.
“It happened at the beginning of the year. I couldn’t play the whole rest of the season, so I’ve already had a similar experience dealing with a bad injury. Except this year, I knew I was going to be able to come back at the end of the season.”
The day after Trinity’s 10-1 victory over Austin College on Feb. 27 in which Singer hit 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI, the Tigers played an intrasquad scrimmage, and Singer was hit in the ankle with a mid-80s fastball.
“At first I didn’t know if it was broken or not,” Singer said. “I went to the training room, and it was pretty swollen.”
Initially, Singer’s injury was said to be a simple bone bruise, but it was actually more serious than that.
“I thought I should get another X-ray because the first one came up negative,” Singer said. “Then a few weeks later, they found out there was a fracture in my ankle. I was worried was because I got hit in the same exact ankle right above the screws.”
Singer was put on crutches for two weeks and switched to a walking boot when he found out it was a fracture. His goal during rehab was to finish out his final season at Trinity, where he is a three-year starter.
“Coach and I talked about it pretty much every day,” Singer said. “He basically said don’t try to push it because if you push it too quick, you’re not going to be back for the end of the year. I kind of babied it and just wanted to make sure I was 100 percent, so when I came back I would be ready for the regionals and end up at the World Series.”
Trinity coach Tim Scannell said he trusted Singer to know the right time to return to the field.
|Austin Singer has been rounding himself back into playing shape while in the lineup for Trinity (Texas).
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
“He was pretty great with the line of communication,” Scannell said. “You could tell he wanted to be out there with his teammates. This team is all about this senior class. They’re super tight, and he really wanted to rejoin them, but Austin knew he wasn’t right yet.”
Singer’s recovery program included ice baths, working on his range of motion with band work and light walking, which progressed into jogging and then running.
While he was out, Singer said he stayed upbeat watching his teammates from the dugout.
“I was able to watch 14 of my best friends – the 14 other seniors we had on the field,” Singer said. “The energy on the field kept me motivated and pumped up during games, and I still felt like I was on the field. I did miss being out there, but I’m thankful I’m here now.”
Singer returned to the field in late April as a pinch-hitter before being inserted back into the starting lineup in the second game of regionals.
“In the conference tournament, I was still iffy running about 70 percent,” Singer said. “But I knew that we were going to move on, and I was able to take that three-week break off between the conference tournament and regionals to become 100 percent and get back on the field.”
In four games in the West Regional, Singer hit .333 with three runs scored and a RBI as Trinity rolled through Spokane, Wash., unbeaten.
“When you deal with an injury its tough, but I’m thankful to the training staff that was able to work with me and get in every day for physical therapy,” Singer said “I knew that I was going to be coming back, and thankfully I got to make it back in regionals and make my first start there.”
Following the school’s first World Series appearance last year, Trinity has returned to Appleton with the goal of bringing home a national title.
“It means the world,” Singer said. “This is the second time we’ve been here, also the second time in school history, and what a better way to do it than with 15 seniors leading us back there? We have a great program going, and hopefully we can win the whole thing.”