FAIRLESS HILLS – May 1 of this year is a day that recent Conwell-Egan Catholic graduate Shane Souchuck will remember for a long, long time. That’s the day he caught a pitch off the left side of his face, shattering his orbital bone and sending him to the hospital for a week.
In a Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) duel at Bonner-Presdergast, it happened in the most unlikely way, said Shane, a senior righthanded pitcher for the Eagles. Leading off that inning for CEC, Shane sustained the blow while batting.
“I’ve always been aware of balls coming at me on the mound and I’ve had some that were really close calls,” said Souchuck. “But knock wood, I’ve caught every one so far.”
“I never thought something like this could happen at the plate.”
Stunned by a fastball that struck him mere millimeters from his left eye, Souchuck said he turned to walk back to the dugout before collapsing. Sustaining cuts to the skin around his eye socket, Shane said there was blood everywhere.
Luckily for Souchuck, Delaware Memorial Hospital is literally 1,500 feet away from the baseball field at B-P so trainers rushed him right over. He spent hours there getting poked, prodded and scanned. DMH personnel finally decided it was best to transfer Shane to the University of Pennsylvania where Shane underwent surgery to repair his shattered left orbital bone.
The day following the surgery, Shane said his sight was worse in his left eye. Later, tests would reveal the plate doctors implanted in his face was too big and had to be replaced.
Another surgery was necessary.
A few screws, two plates, a pair of surgeries, a week in the hospital and a month to recover is the price Souchuck paid for not getting out of the way of that pitch.
His season was not done, however.
Egan made their way to a district championship battle after posting a 5-11 overall record during the regular season.
Just two days before the championship matchup, Shane picked a baseball up for the first time and started to throw. After tossing 40 pitches in the bullpen that day, Souchuck had high hopes that he might see some action in the title game.
In the District 12 Class 3A championship, junior righthander Ryan Crowell pitched the Eagles to a 12-2 lead over Science Leadership Academy (SLA) going into the final frame. Egan broke open a close game with six runs in the fifth inning and three more in the sixth while Crowell tossed three scoreless frames.
Knowing it might be Souchuck’s only chance to return to action before the end of his high school career, head coach Scott Haws gave Shane a chance to close in the title tilt.
“Ryan really stepped up and he pitched well in that game,” said Souchuck. “But I felt like I was ready to give it a try and [coach] Scott [Haws] really wanted to get me in.”
According to Shane, his vision still hadn’t returned to normal so he depended on muscle memory to find the strike zone.
“My eyes weren’t really that good but from doing it so many times over the years, I could still throw strikes,” said Souchuck. “I’ve been doing this for 10 years now so I know where the location is.”
After striking out two batters and allowing one walk, Souchuck induced a soft liner to first base to close out the first district title in the school’s history.
Egan took advantage of 15 walks, four hit batsmen and four throwing errors to topple the Rockets and the Eagles scored six of their runs on eight walks – four of which came with the sacks jammed – an error, two hit batsmen and a pair of wild pitches.
Notching RBIs in the title game were Crowell, who had three, and sophomore Chris Furey, with two. Seniors Matt Costanzo and Patrick Brennan, juniors Brendan Sullivan and Noah Andress, along with freshman Connor Lowry also pushed runs across for the Eagles in the contest.
“It was a bummer getting hurt and not being able to play for half the season,” said Souchuck. “But it was my senior year it was good to go out with a bang.”
From there, the Eagles went to a PIAA opener against District 3 rival Oley Valley, a battle that began June 5 at Archbishop Wood and ended two days later at the same venue.
The Lynx entered the game with a 17-3 record.
“I don’t think we really knew much about Oley Valley and we don’t put too much into records,” said Haws. “You don’t know their talent level and the level they are playing against and I’m sure it’s the same way with us.”
“But they were a solid team and they could hit – they were gritty.”
Furey scored three runs from the leadoff spot. Number three batter Bryce Trimble – a senior – stroked three RBI hits including a double while Costanzo – the cleanup hitter – ripped an RBI single.
Catcher Will Zimmerman, the number five hitter, went 3-for-4 that day including a double. His only out that day was a sinking line shot to left field that – on any other day – would have went for a two-run double.
With two outs and a pair of Eagles in scoring position, OV leftfielder Chris Kubitz raced in and made a diving catch for the final out and Egan went down in order in the seventh for a 6-5 loss.
Still a memorable season and one Shane Souchuck won’t soon forget.
TOP PHOTO, LEFT: Shane Souchuck getting tested at the Delaware Memorial Hospital shortly after his May 1 injury at Bonner-Prendergast. RIGHT: At the University of Pennsylvania days after getting beaned on the cheekbone by a fastball. (PHOTOS COURTESY STACY SOUCHUCK)
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