It's been a long road back to the bump for Ellicottville's Tom Easton.
"You hear a snap, a pop," he said.
During the sectional playoffs during the 2014 football season, a non-contact injury to his knee would shut Easton down for the rest of the school year.
"I almost puked, honestly." Easton said. "I asked him 'my ACL is torn? I can't play baseball?'"
"No, you're out for eight months," the doctor told Easton.
"I really didn't care about anything he said after that," Easton added.
After going 4-1 and providing a steadying presence in the Eagles rotation as a sophomore, he would miss the entire junior campaign.
"Pitching is king in high school baseball. When you have a dominant pitcher in Tom who can go out and get 10-12 strikeouts on average, it makes it a lot easier," Head Coach Chris Mendell said.
"When he's not in there I gotta come up with 17-18 outs. At the D level the game can get interesting in a hurry. It hurt us big time not having him."
He was cleared to resume baseball activities after six months of rehab and logged a few innings of work last summer.
And then last week, the senior toed the rubber for the first time in over a year for the Maroon and White.
"It felt good to be in an Ellicottville uniform again," he said. "It felt to good to have it say Ellicottville and have number 5 on my jersey."
"I didn't have any nerves because I know when he's on the mound, it relaxes my nerves," Mendell add. "There's a confidence level you have when he's out there."
The senior hurler had one objective.
"First pitch strike. Got to get ahead in the count."
He struck out 12 en route to his and the team's first win of the season.
My confidence is up there. I feel like I can produce like coach said. The things I feel like I can do, I can do. I don't feel like I'm holding myself back from anything."
*** SUPER 7 COUNTDOWN ***
#1 – Tom Easton, Ellicottville Baseball
Struck out 12 batters to earn the win in his first action since returning from a torn ACL as a junior during football season.
#2 - Mary Kate Musialowski, Sacred Heart Lacrosse
Scored 7 goals in Sacred Hearth’s 18-2 win over Immaculata.
#3 – Luke Wilcox, Eden Gymnastics
Qualified for the national tournament for the first time, placing 1st in the vault, parallel bars and the rings. He finished 3rd in the all-around at the regional qualifier.
#4 - Grace Gallagher, Buffalo Seminary Lacrosse
Scored 5 goals in SEMs 11-3 win over St. Mary’s of Lancaster.
"Grace Gallagher always had the athleticism to be a phenomenal lacrosse player. With all the extra time she put in this preseason, it was only a matter of time until she was going to show the league what she can do on
the field!" - Kevin Phengthavone, Head Coach
#5 – Dan Dallas, Canisius Baseball
Struck out eight and drove in two runs to earn the win in the Crusaders 7-3 win over Georgetown Prep.
#6 – Alyssa Maxwell, Grand Island Lacrosse
Scored four goals in the Vikings 11-8 win over Williamsville North to help the squad improve to 3-0.
“Alyssa is having a great start to her junior season. Her stick skills and understanding of the game are some of the best I have ever seen. Alyssa is by far the best attacker to ever come through Grand Island High School.” – Jennifer Shalke, Head Coach
#7 – Kurt Eschner, Frontier Lacrosse
Scored two goals, including the game-winner in the Falcons’ overtime victory over Lancaster.
“Kurt Eschner is a very hard worker and has dedicated himself in the off season to becoming a better overall player. Kurt has been a leader off the field by attending our off-season clinics and tournaments. It is his dedication that has made him a stand out player within our lacrosse organization.” – Sean Muldowney, Head Coach