ANNA – He’s OK, folks, but this past month has been a trying one, injury-wise, for Anna sophomore pitcher and shortstop Rawley Hector. The 6-2, 175-pound Texas A&M commit had more than his share of mishaps on the field during this time, including a fastball to the head, a same-day tumble in the outfield, a leg contusion a week later and painful throwing-hand injury.
The incidents occurred in Georgia and North Carolina at high-profile events for some of the top high school players in the country.
“It’s definitely eye-opening,” Rawley said of his unfortunate pain gauntlet on Aug. 16, at Anna High School. “I was very thankful I came back all in one piece.”
Rawley’s father, Anna head baseball coach Joey Hector, was on hand for a couple of the incidents, including the errant fastball.
“From the dad side of me,” Hector said, “I was obviously a little concerned about it. But it’s part of the game. He’s a tough kid. He handled it well. I was proud to see him bounce back.”
The screamer to Rawley’s head, of course, was of particular concern. “When you’re facing guys throwing 88, 94 miles an hour and you take a shot to the head, it’s scary,” Hector said. “He was fortunate it wasn’t worse.”
Rawley departed for Cartersville, Ga., in mid-July for the Perfect Game World Wood Bat National Championship where he competed with his select team - Dulin’s Dodgers Prime Texas. After facing quality pitching all week, Rawley stood in from the right side against a Kansas kid who hurled it close to 90 miles per hour.
“He let one loose and got me in the head,” Rawley said in describing how the pitch suddenly came high and inside. He turned away but it caught him squarely in the back of the head, just under the helmet - and he went down.
“That one hurt,” Rawley said. “It was a fastball, I know that for sure. I remember looking at the scoreboard when I got up. It said 89.”
A paramedic wasn’t called out but an on-site trainer soon checked him over.
“She talked to me for a little bit,” Rawley said, “went over the concussion protocol. … I wanted to contribute every way I could for my team. I wanted to go win that thing, especially for the journey we’ve been on so far, so I went back out there. I was able to play just fine.”
But then, maybe two hours later, in the next game, Rawley got dinged again. From his shortstop position, he’d drifted back into left field for a fly ball as the left fielder charged in.
“I was camped under it,” Rawley said, “and he ran into me thinking he had the ball. A little bit of miscommunication - it happens.” Clipped in the legs, Rawley flipped over and landed, of course, on his head. “The trainer wasn’t too happy about that one,” Rawley said. “I continued to play. I was fine. I wanted to do anything I could for my team.”
About a week later, Rawley and Dulin’s Dodgers took part in the Perfect Game 15U World Series, also at Cartersville. This invitation-only event includes the Top 30 15U teams in the country and is a big draw for pro scouts and college coaches.
“Everything was good,” Rawley said. “I dropped a bunt down the third base line - a great bunt, the first bunt I ever laid down.” As the pitcher threw to first, Rawley said he knew it would be a bang-bang play — and it was. The throw drew the first baseman into him and the two collided, leaving Rawley with a bruised left knee.
The spate of mishaps ended during the first week of August with a nice, bloody finger-blister on his throwing hand at USA Baseball’s 16U National Team Development Program, at Cary, N.C.
“I felt great,” he said. “I had stuff working pretty well. But the humidity out there was so bad the sweat was running down my arm. I threw a pitch and the next thing I know, I had blood going down my hand.”
Rawley had planned to finish off his summer at the prestigious Underclass Area Code Games in Los Angeles, Calif., August 9-12, where select teams tied to Major League Baseball clubs compete for a championship, but he decided against it.
“I felt like I was in a good spot to end my summer,” Rawley said. “I felt confident after the good week I had at USA.” Plus, he added, he wanted to see his sister, Maddie Hector, before she departed again for Arkansas State University.
Ironically, Coach Hector had taken a fastball to the head two weeks before Rawley endured his high fast one in Georgia. He and Rawley were at Prairie View A&M competing with Dulin’s Dodgers and while they were standing near a bullpen, a fastball cleared the surrounding fence and caught Hector cleanly just above his right temple. The impact point looked like someone had slipped half-a-lemon under his scalp.
“Your life kind of flashes before you,” Hector said, “because you know the damage a baseball can do. … They laid me down on the concrete because I was pretty dizzy and felt like I was going to throw up.
“I knew it was bad when some people came and asked if they could pray over me. I remember the lady saying, ‘Lord, please help this man with this massive swelling of his head.’”
Hector wasn’t rushed to a hospital and no ambulance was called.
“They wanted to bring it,” he said, “but we have a couple of kids on our team whose parents are doctors. They were doing some tests on me and I had a concussion. Other than that, they’re like, ‘You can go but there’s nothing they can do for you.’” The doctors continued to monitor his condition and apply ice to the area and Hector responded. “I threw BP [batting practice] the next day, so it’s all good,” he said. “It still kind of hurts every now and then when I touch it. I try not to but when I’m washing my head I’m very aware of it.”
Rawley was talking with his dad when that frightening incident occurred. “It was really scary,” he said. “I was scared because my mom and my sister were still in Anna. … I was, like, the care parent, I guess. I had to take care of him, stay up late with him. It was just a bunch of prayers and making sure he would be alright. Luckily, they were answered. He’s doing just fine now.”
As for both of them getting beaned within days, Rawley said, “It’s going to be a life-long memory my dad and me will have.”
So how does Rawley feel now? “Amazing,” he said. “I want to go play baseball again. … I’m ready to put the purple and black shirt on and have the “A” on my head and start playing again for the Coyotes.”
Rawley said having the support of his parents during this rough stretch - and throughout his life - has been a blessing. “It means the world to know they’re always behind you for whatever you do in your life - athletic-wise, school-wise, decisions you make. I couldn’t be happier to have them as my parents.”