The mother of a high school baseball player, whose son had suffered multiple concussions in the months leading up to the baseball season, was alarmed when she heard that her son’s baseball coaches allegedly threw baseballs at players, who were told they could not leave the batter’s box during a practice.
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services opened an investigation on March 10 investigating the incident involving Hardin Valley Academy coaches Joe Michalski and Zach Luther.
Sheri Super, the mother of junior shortstop Ryder Green, told the media that her son and other players were forced to stand in the batter’s box while Luther threw the pitches and Michalski watched from first base during the drill.
The mother said that the impetus for the drill was a decision by a player to step out of the batter’s box during a March 8 scrimmage to avoid being hit by a pitch. Thus, during the practice, no one was allowed to leave the batter’s box until they were hit by a pitch.
“What makes me angry is that my son has had two concussions since May of last year,” Super told the media. “What if they would have accidentally hit him the head? At that point we are talking about double vision and cognitive functioning, not whether he has a career playing at Vanderbilt.” Green has reportedly committed to play baseball for Vanderbilt University in 2018.
Some parents expressed their support for the coaches, including writing letters to the superintendent and visiting with DCS officials. Players allowed DCS to evaluate them for injuries, according to Shane Parks, whose son Drew is a senior infielder and pitcher.
“There isn’t any mental or child abuse going on at practice,” Parks said. “This is a mama trying to get a coach fired and we don’t appreciate it right here before the season.”
Parks said the ball used in the drill was not a regulation baseball, but a hard rubber ball, lessening the risk.
“It is intended for this specific kind of drill,” he told the media. “High schools and colleges around the country are known to teach this drill — not that everyone accepts it. But we don’t have an issue with it and (the coach) was not trying to abuse my son.”