Pain does not prevent pitcher from making memorable play

Monday, April 5, 2010 at 12:45am

Corey Williams said he “never felt anything so painful.”

An instant before that, the only thing that went through the mind of Vanderbilt’s redshirt-freshman pitcher was to get an out. And he did – despite the fact that his right kneecap was shattered.

Williams was hit with a line drive off the bat of Florida’s Austin Maddox in the bottom of the seventh inning of the Commodores’ 7-3 loss on Saturday. While on his stomach with his right leg off the ground, he still managed to flip the ball close enough to the bag that first baseman Aaron Westlake scooped it up and tagged Maddox for the out.

“I think it was just complete instinct and competitiveness in every shape and form,” coach Tim Corbin said. “He didn’t reach for his knee, he reached for the ball.”

The presence of mind and perseverance he displayed seems likely to make the Huntsville, Ala., native a YouTube sensation.

“Right after I got back from the hospital, (Corbin) showed me the video,” Williams said. “He said it was one of the most amazing things he’d ever seen.

“I was just trying to get an out.”

Watch the YouTube video of the play

Williams returned to Nashville on Sunday morning, hours before Vanderbilt defeated Florida 7-0 in the finale of the three-game Southeastern Conference series against the Gators. The Commodores had lost the first two of the weekend.

“My message to the team on (Sunday) morning was that we needed some competitive toughness, the same kind that Corey showed in making that play,” Corbin said.

Williams is scheduled to undergo surgery early Monday morning at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The kneecap will be reconstructed (“there’s two big pieces, and some little pieces,” Williams said) with the help of some hardware.

He expects to make a full recovery and – eventually – to resume his baseball career.

“It pretty much hurts all the time, but if I keep it elevated and still, it’s not too bad,” Williams said Sunday afternoon. “Plus, they’ve got me on some pain medication.”

Williams is second among Vanderbilt pitchers with 12 appearances – all in relief – this season. He is 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA, 17 strikeouts and six walks in 17 innings pitched.

He was redshirted in 2009 following a record-setting career at Madison Academy in Huntsville.

“I feel like when I’m ready to go again – it probably will be after this season and the summer – I’ll be plenty prepared,” Williams said. “I won’t be nervous at all.”


3 Comments on this post:

By: VinnyT (not verified) on 4/5/10 at 7:22
Unbelievable presence of mind! If it was my knee, the last thing I would have been thinking about was the dang baseball. Hopefully, Williams will recover fully and his teammates will draw a little inspiration from this on the field.
By: damons on 4/6/10 at 9:31

I hope this made ESPN's plays of the day! Good luck Corey!

By: TharonChandler on 4/6/10 at 11:49

Man, the Human Body is an amazing creation and believe it or not your knee will get better. You have your youth and ability to recover.

I myself was a great athlete and baseball player, never lucky enough to do more with it. These days, at age 42, between the diet I'm getting and the places I'm sleeping, my right hand is painfully 'going to sleep' in the middle of the night and sometimes during the day. Actually it might be either hand and, though I'm active to be healthy, it is getting more difficult to wake em back up.

The other night I saw the San Francisco team host the A's at their own home field. The weather had been fierce during the day and cleared up just before game-time, into a beautiful evening for baseball. I'm not sure which team is supposed to be better hitters or to have the better pitching but those black boys for the A's was wearing the ball out; hitting it solid with wooden bats, into the gaps of the outfield.

Good luck Vandy; Bye forever.