“It was a fastball. I knew that was what I was going to see,” Adman McDowell said of the second pitch he saw during the Regional Championship game against Florida last Tuesday.
McDowell is an outfielder and pitcher for the Rutherfordton-Chase 50/70 All-Stars who are currently in Livermore, Calif. for the Intermediate Little League World Series.
McDowell took that fastball and drove it deep into right field.
“I saw it go over the right fielder’s head and I knew I was going to third,” McDowell said. “When I rounded first I picked up Coach (Curtis Snethen) and I was coming off second I looked at Coach and he wasn’t telling me whether to stay up or go down. I got too close to the bag and couldn’t decide if I should slide or not.”
He decided to slide. His right foot slammed awkwardly into the bag.
“Right when my foot hit the bag I saw it fly out and I knew something was wrong. I knew I was in trouble,” McDowell said. “I told myself I had to get up and I had to be able to walk on it. I kept trying to tell myself that was alright. I tried to walk but I just couldn’t do it.”
A pair of coaches carried the injured McDowell to an ambulance where he was transported to the local hospital for treatment. It was only the first inning. Luckily, it was only a sprained ankle.
“They kept saying it was okay and to stay tough,” McDowell said of the parents and coaches on site.
McDowell’s team went on to win the game, 8-2, over Florida.
McDowell and his mother, Sherry McDowell, sat in the hospital and received game updates via text message. When they heard that the Rutherfordton team was head for the World Series, emotions were mixed.
“It was bittersweet because I knew I was going to be able to play. I thought I blew it,” McDowell said. “My mom was with me in the hospital. I told her I didn’t want to be the guy who just hurt his ankle and couldn’t help the team any. I told her I didn’t care what it took to get it better.”
“I cried a lot more than he did … it was heartbreaking,” Sherry said.
Now with the team in California, McDowell goes through the same routine the rest of the boys do. He wakes up, puts on his Southeast team gear and heads to breakfast in the morning. But unlike the others, he straps on a walking boot to his right foot and grabs his crutches.
It hasn’t slowed him down. He follows the team everywhere they go. His arms may get tired from supporting his weight while on his crutches, but he keeps going. There’s no mistaking that the kid who once manned the No. 3 spot in the lineup, finished second in the Regional Home Run Derby and was often called upon to be the teams closer in tight games, is still very much a part of this team.
“If there was anything I could do to play, I would do it,” McDowell said. “I just want to be here for support. There really isn’t a lot more that I can do.”
“Baseball is what he’s always done,” Sherry said. “When he was 2 he could hit a waffle ball over our garage.”
Despite the upbeat attitude McDowell displays throughout the day, the pain in his face when he discusses his injury is undeniable.
“It’s killing me right now,” McDowell said. “We’re not going to get to do this ever again. This will never happen to us again and there’s nothing I can do.”
“I called him Monday when the team was practicing and he told me how upset he was because he couldn’t be out there,” Sherry said.
McDowell stayed in his boot Tuesday but hopes to play in the team’s first game this afternoon. If not, there’s the possibility for him to see the field Thursday or Friday.
“If he doesn’t play Wednesday I hope he plays Friday,” Sherry said of her injured son. “He’s been pretty calm about it all. He’s got a lot of faith and so do I, but sometimes it can take a minute to kick in.”