From Laid Out to Leadoff, Radabaugh Sees Previous Injury as a TestMay 6, 2009
By CSU Sports Information
|Photo by Bret McIver|
For most people, a debilitating back injury would signal the end of an athletic career and diving head-first after a pair of back surgeries would be out of the question. That said it is pretty easy to see why sophomore Scotty Radabaugh is not like most people.
In his final high school game at James Island HS, Radabaugh tried to turn a double play. As he jumped to relay the throw, the runner sliding into second clipped his legs, sending him crashing to the dirt. The fall broke a facet joint in the L5 region of his back and caused a disc to herniate.
The pain was so severe that it forced Radabaugh to contort his body, eventually causing his spine to curve into almost a J shape. Dr. Blake Dennis, Radabaugh’s orthopedic surgeon, wanted to do surgery immediately. On June 22, 2006, just before the start of his freshman year at Charleston Southern, they fused his vertebrae together, using a bone graft from his hip. It took two rods and six screws but it fixed the problem and Radabaugh felt ready to play in the spring. He had already decided to redshirt the season, so he sat out, but did play on an American Legion team over the summer.
He finally got to experience collegiate baseball in the fall of 2007, going through drills and off-season practice with the team. Just before the winter break, the pain started to creep back, forcing Radabaugh to have an MRI. Sure enough, the fusion was no longer solid, forcing a second surgery and ending his season before it began. This time, they went in through his stomach and again fixed the problem, but required him to take it easy for six months to heal.
“I really didn’t see the light at the end,” said Radabaugh. “Even after the first surgery, I kind of figured that I would have to take a different role with the team. I tried to help out however I could, knowing I wanted to be part of the team. I still wasn’t satisfied because I believe God put the passion in my heart to play again.”
Anxious to get back on the field after almost two years, Radabaugh was cleared to play on Jan. 9, 2009, just before the season started for the Bucs. Although he wasn’t in the starting lineup for CSU, he did see action in the first game of the year, getting a pinch hit at-bat with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Immediately, Radabaugh showed signs of what was to come for the CSU faithful as he grounded a ball to the shortstop, diving in head first to beat it out for a base hit, and his first collegiate RBI.
Though it didn’t win the game for CSU, it did send a message to anyone who would listen.
“All I felt was just relief that I could finally do what I loved again,” said Radabaugh. “God clearly put this in my life to see how I would react. I know I am living on God-given time so I try to play as hard and as honorable as I can while I am still able.”
His decisions on how to live have affected his teammates and his coaches in numerous ways, on and off the field. At just 5-8 and 140 pounds he may not be the most gifted athlete, but it could be argued that he has the biggest heart in America.
“The biggest thing that Scotty brings to our team is the attitude of playing every day like it is your last, because on a couple of occasions, he thought he had seen his last,” said first-year Head Coach Stuart Lake. “He plays with a tenacity and enthusiasm that you can’t teach and is really invaluable to our team, which is why he is our leadoff hitter. He deals with more physical restraints than most, but works harder to account for that. He represents what a college student-athlete is all about. He has no concerns, he is just playing baseball, and it’s very refreshing.”
Radabaugh has now played in 41 of CSU’s 44 games including 36 starts at anything from second base to the outfield, even serving as the designated hitter as he continues to show that he will do anything for his teammates. He has been the leadoff man in the order for CSU in 32 games and is hitting over 300 for the season.
When CSU took the field against South Carolina on March 4 in the newly-opened Carolina Stadium, it was fitting that Radabaugh was the first batter of the game. As fans have come to expect, Radabaugh led off the game with a single to short, diving into the bag to beat the throw.
“That was one of the best baseball experiences that you can have,” said Radabaugh. “To play against a team like South Carolina in a stadium like that was a great opportunity.”
Even Radabaugh doesn’t know what the future will hold, but for right now, he plans to continue playing baseball, while studying business and religion at CSU. After graduating in 2010, he will probably pursue a master’s degree and eventually work for the department of natural resources.