Scott Stetz always will remember the final at-bat of his college baseball career.
“It was one last time to step in the [batter’s] box, hear your walk-up song, all those little things about baseball,” said Stetz, a senior catcher at NAIA Indiana University South Bend.
What was most memorable about his April 30 at-bat against Lincoln College on senior day was that Stetz stepped to the plate with a cast on his left hand wrapped in tape and a surprise for his teammates.
In a Twitter video, Stetz – a Prairie Ridge graduate who began his career at College of Lake County – is shown taking a one-handed swing at a first-pitch fastball and beating out a throw to get on base via an error by Lincoln’s shortstop.
His modified swing came eight weeks after breaking six bones in his left hand, wrist and two fingers in a play at the plate during a March 6 game in Florida against Concordia Nebraska.
As a runner dove into the plate, Stetz said he dove to make the tag.
The result was a painful hand, but no swelling or bruising. A week later, X-rays revealed the damage.
Stetz, who batted .381 as a junior last spring, has spent the past two months working with the team as an assistant coach.
Before Senior Day, IU South Bend head coach Doug Buysse asked Stetz if he wanted one last at-bat. The senior said yes.
“He put me in the starting lineup,” Stetz said. “He said, ‘Can you put down a bunt for me?’ I said, ‘I’ll get on base.’”
The day before the game, when coaches weren’t looking, Stetz took a few swings in batting practice.
“I figured out a little technique,” he said. “I wanted to give it one last swing. I held the bat with two hands. Once I started loading, I just dropped the [left] hand completely so I didn’t hurt it.”
After getting on base, Stetz got plenty of cheers from surprised fans and teammates.
“I’ve never had an at-bat that fired me up that much,” he said. “It was awesome to hear the crowed and my teammates go crazy for me. A lot of them didn’t expect me to swing one-handed, let alone get on base.”