ACCS senior rebounding after injury-plagued junior season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2017

Adams County Christian School players rushed from their dugout to home plate to congratulate teammate Cole Gatlin on his second home run during Tuesday night’s game.

The scene awaiting Gatlin at home plate splashed a smile across his face, perhaps serving as a reminder to the senior slugger in how far he’s had to come.

Just a season ago, Gatlin was limited to a designated-hitter role early on before ultimately giving up on the year because of a shoulder injury.

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“My cartilage in my shoulder was all gone, and they had to replace it,” he said. “I had to quit. I wasn’t doing anything. It was rough. It’s hard to watch from the dugout.”

Gatlin said the road to recovery was a difficult one, filled with hours of physical therapy.

“I couldn’t lift weights for nine months,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything with my arm.”

Gatlin began baseball activities this past summer for his travel ball team. However, he was limited to a first base only role as he recovered from his injury.

He said an obstacle he had to overcome was learning proper technique all over again.

“Everything changes when you come back,” Gatlin said. “Your mechanics are different. You just have to get it back.”

Now, the barrel-chested, 6-foot-1, 230 pounder serves in a variety of roles for the Rebels (11-12). Gatlin has played first base, third base and shortstop in addition to being one of his team’s top two starting pitchers.

“It’s tough not to be able to call a position home,” ACCS coach Matthew Freeman said. “He’s even (played catcher) before, he does it all. He doesn’t have a true home, but it’s good to have a utility guy that can move around in different spots.”

The two home runs were Gatlin’s first of the season.

“I just saw the ball well,” he said.

Freeman said the long balls, which both easily cleared the left field wall at ACCS, came as no surprise to him as Gatlin possess the physical abilities to produce such strong results.

“Going into the season, I figured he would be my senior leader who would hit at least five or six for the season,” Freeman said. “He’s finally seeing the ball and driving it.”

Freeman said his do-it-all senior has the ability to play at the next level, and Tuesday night’s showing is a testament to Gatlin’s potential.

“He’s got big plans,” Freeman said. “That’s the kind of things he’s going to have to do if he wants to live that dream.”

But for now, Gatlin is just happy to be a key member for the Rebels and alongside his teammates on the field.

“I just play,” Gatlin said.

ACCS next plays Friday at district rival Brookhaven Academy.