After sitting out a year due to reconstructive surgery, senior pitcher makes return to the diamond for season

Senior pitcher makes successful Tommy John turnaround

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After sitting out a year due to reconstructive surgery, senior pitcher makes return to the diamond for season

Senor pitcher Jackson Hewins fields a ground ball in practice. Hewins, after tearing his UCL, recovered from surgery in time to star in his senior season.

Senor pitcher Jackson Hewins fields a ground ball in practice. Hewins, after tearing his UCL, recovered from surgery in time to star in his senior season.

Fynn Stovall

Senor pitcher Jackson Hewins fields a ground ball in practice. Hewins, after tearing his UCL, recovered from surgery in time to star in his senior season.

Fynn Stovall

Fynn Stovall

Senor pitcher Jackson Hewins fields a ground ball in practice. Hewins, after tearing his UCL, recovered from surgery in time to star in his senior season.

By Emily Gordon-Ross, Staff Writer

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At the start of baseball season in 2017, senior Jackson Hewins, then a sophomore, felt something wasn’t OK in his right arm.

After the season was over, he went to the doctor and learned he had injured his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), a tendon on the inner side of the elbow that connects the upper arm to the forearm. To get it repaired, Hewins had to undergo surgery.

“I had Tommy John surgery,” said Hewins. “The surgery took a [healthy] tendon out of my forearm and put it in my elbow.”

In Tommy John surgery, holes are drilled in the bones above and below where the injured tendon was, and the healthy tendon is threaded through in replacement. Hewins’ surgery was April 10, 2018.

With recovery for this surgery typically taking between 12-14 months, Hewins was unable to play for the entirety of his junior year.

“I felt bad for him because he was a good pitcher and had a bright future, but now all of that could be prevented because of the injury,” said senior teammate Garrett Romero. “I was just shocked and hoping he’d make a speedy recovery.”

This kind of injury is common among pitchers.

“We have had players that have had Tommy John surgery [before],” said baseball coach Brad Stoll. “With these types of injuries the tear occurs over time. [I was] totally bummed for the kid. I hate when good kids that work hard get injured and are unable to play a sport they love.”

Hewins has been working hard in physical therapy the last year to build up strengthen his arm to play for the 2019 season.

“Started off using dumbbells, working on strength little at a time,” said Hewins. “It’s going good, I’m right on track to be fully recovered in 12 months.”

Early this season, the baseball team traveled to a tournament in Oklahoma where Hewins was cleared to pitch for the weekend. Romero was inspired by his teammate’s spirit and work ethic.

“It’ll help this team greatly to see a teammate that was injured his whole junior year work his butt off to get where he is and now he’s out there pitching again,” Romero said. “It just makes you want to work harder and play better for him and the rest of your teammates.”

Stoll felt the same way. Hewins’ commitment to the team and his recovery has made his team and coach proud of his recovery.

“It was such a great experience to watch him throw in Oklahoma,” Stoll said. “We were down in the game and we fought back for the win with him on the mound. He was the winning pitcher and the entire team was pumped up for him. Great moment.”

Oklahoma was an important milestone for Hewins, and to play and pitch well was just icing on the cake.

“It was my first time pitching in a game since 2017 and I thought it went really well,” Hewins said. “I pitched two innings and had four strikeouts and didn’t give up a run. It felt really good to finally be back out there and be able to compete with my teammates after all the hard work that we have put in.”