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updated: 4/20/2017 4:36 PM

Baseball: Pietschmann back to shouldering lead role at Carmel

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  • Carmel Catholic's Eddie Pietschmann overcame a pair of shoulder surgeries and is having a standout spring season on the pitching mound.

      Carmel Catholic's Eddie Pietschmann overcame a pair of shoulder surgeries and is having a standout spring season on the pitching mound.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Carmel Catholic's Eddie Pietschmann overcame a pair of shoulder surgeries and is having a standout spring season on the pitching mound.

      Carmel Catholic's Eddie Pietschmann overcame a pair of shoulder surgeries and is having a standout spring season on the pitching mound.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Carmel Catholic's Eddie Pietschmann overcame a pair of shoulder surgeries and is having a standout spring season on the pitching mound.

      Carmel Catholic's Eddie Pietschmann overcame a pair of shoulder surgeries and is having a standout spring season on the pitching mound.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Eddie Pietschmann

      Eddie Pietschmann
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Carmel Catholic's Eddie Pietschmann overcame a pair of shoulder surgeries and is having a standout spring season on the pitching mound.

      Carmel Catholic's Eddie Pietschmann overcame a pair of shoulder surgeries and is having a standout spring season on the pitching mound.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 

Six days.

That's all the time that Eddie Pietschmann got to enjoy Comeback No. 1.

Pietschmann, Carmel's senior pitcher and power hitter, tore up his right shoulder trying to make a tackle in the early weeks of football season during his sophomore year in the fall of 2014.

He had surgery almost immediately to repair his labrum and was out for months, finally cleared the following spring just in time for baseball. He had made the varsity as a sophomore.

Six days after being cleared, lightning struck again. And this time, it hit his left shoulder. Seriously. Just six days later.

It felt like a cruel joke, a sick nightmare. But, it was true.

Pietschmann did literally the same exact thing to his left shoulder that he did to his right. He tore it all up swinging at a pitch.

Back to the operating table. Perhaps he should have asked for the frequent patient discount.

"It was demoralizing," Pietschmann said. "I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it happened again right after I had been cleared."

Yep, Pietschmann was out for months. Again.

All together, between the right shoulder and the left shoulder and two surgeries, he was shelved for nearly 12 consecutive months, all the while hurting from the surgeries, and feeling terrified that his baseball career might be over.

Of course, it wasn't. But what a scary and surreal ride for Pietschmann over the last two years. His is a story of amazing grit and determination in the face of two serious setbacks with barely a breath of air in between.

"I definitely wondered if I would ever be able to play again," Pietschmann said. "I didn't know if my body would be able to hold up anymore (after two surgeries). It was frustrating."

But by the fall of 2015, after months and months of hard, painful work, Pietschmann was cleared again, for the second time. By the spring of 2016, he was ready for his junior season of baseball.

"I was cleared, and I was trying so hard to get back to where I once was, but I wasn't quite myself yet," Pietschmann said. "My velocity was down from where it had been. I was kind of off and on. My shoulders felt a little weird sometimes when I would pitch, like I was kind of holding back somehow, even though I wasn't trying to. My shoulders didn't always want to do the basic motions of playing baseball. And through the surgeries, I had lost a lot of strength. I could tell I was being tentative."

And yet, here's where this story gets even crazier: Pietschmann, sometimes struggling to navigate his way through his new reality in the wake of two surgeries, was still on point enough last season to emerge as one of the best players in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Amazingly, he came in second place in voting for league player of the year honors. He was 3-1 on the mound with a 1.29 ERA.

Now, with the final year of his high school career underway, Pietschmann is still healthy, healthier than ever, and he's much further along on the recovery meter. His shoulders are finally feeling like they should. His velocity has returned. He is pitching with confidence, he is savoring every moment.

"I remember doing a lot of research about this injury," Pietschmann said. "I didn't really find anyone who had back-to-back injuries like me, but there were a lot of Major League Baseball players and NFL quarterbacks who had the same injury to one of their shoulders and they came back just fine. That gave me confidence that I could come back too."

Pietschmann's first outing last year was in a junior varsity game against St. Viator. Just a few innings. But that went pretty well, and each time he took the mound, Pietschmann gained more and more confidence. Nearly winning the ESCC player of the year award at the end of last season made Pietschmann feel even more like himself.

Now, with a full year of recovery under his belt and steel reinforcements in both shoulders that essentially guarantee that they will maintain their stability for the rest of his career, Pietschmann has practically forgotten that his shoulders were ever an issue.

Pietschmann is currently 2-1 on the mound and one of Carmel's best hitters. The Corsairs are 7-3 overall.

"The amount of effort Eddie has put into coming back from his injuries is inspiring," Carmel baseball coach Bill Taylor said. "When you watch him go about his work, it's easy to see why his teammates look up to him. There is no doubt he leads by example.

"His velocity was down last season, and he was forced to rely on command and changing speeds. Now that his velocity has increased this year, I'm excited to see what he can do with a little more in the tank."

Pietschmann has refueled by taking his rehab and his health in general very seriously.

He has committed to a healthy diet, to getting stronger in the weight room, and to working on his mobility with daily stretches and exercises.

"I did a lot of that stuff before, but not to the point I do now, not as aggressively," Pietschmann said. "Stretching is a big thing. Eating healthy. Staying fit. I kind of kicked my tail a little bit. I think going through all the rehab made me an even harder worker. You can't coast through trying to come back from two surgeries like this, and you realize how valuable being healthy is and you want to do everything you can to get there."

Clearly, the hard work has paid off. Not only did Pietschmann have an unexpectedly fruitful season last spring, he was solid over the summer and attracted college interest, something he feared was no longer an option when he was in the midst of back-to-back surgeries and recoveries.

In November of 2016, Pietschmann signed with Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

"I had always wanted to play baseball in college, but I had sat out for over a year. When you lose one year of your high school career, you wonder if you'll even be able to play in college," Pietschmann said. "But it worked out and when I visited Oshkosh, I just got the feeling that it was the place for me."

For now, though, Pietschmann is fine with where he's at. Having missed so much of his high school career, he isn't ready for it to be over just yet.

"I definitely enjoy every game now," Pietschmann said. "I lost a full year. I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to play again. That makes you really appreciate every opportunity you do get. I'm really cherishing this season. It's my senior year and I want to have fun and do as much as I can and have no regrets."

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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