Everything seemed to be coming easy this season for Jacob Chrysler.
The senior was leading the Hilliard Davidson High School baseball team in most batting and pitching categories when his charmed season took an unfortunate turn with a headfirst slide into third base April 30.
Chrysler was trying to stretch a double into a triple in the first inning of an OCC-Central Division home game against Upper Arlington when he landed awkwardly on his left shoulder during his slide. He immediately knew something was wrong.
"When I went in, I felt really sore," said Chrysler, who was out at third, but drove in two runs on the play in the Wildcats' 6-2 loss to the Golden Bears. "Then I tried to roll over. ... I knew it wasn't good.
"That was my first sports-related injury ... well, other than a sprained ankle, but those don't count. (Davidson trainer John DiBlasio) said it was a separated shoulder and that it might be three or four weeks (before I can return)."
Actually, it was better than expected.
On May 3, coach Jim Dougherty said Chrysler's "checkup went well, but he will need surgery at some point. His doctor says he might be able to pitch in a week or so."
Chrysler, a right-hander, hopes he can return soon.
"I'm just taking things one game at a time and working to get back," he said. "It's my left shoulder, so I can pitch before I can hit."
Dougherty attributed Chrysler's injury, in part, to his aggressive nature on the bases.
"Jacob's a high-energy kid and at times he tries to makes plays for the other eight guys," said Dougherty, who is retiring at season's end after 32 years leading the Wildcats. "Sometimes he tries to do too much."
At the time of his injury, Chrysler was 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA and one save in 29 innings. He had struck out 30, walked 16 and given up only seven hits.
"Jacob's a bona fide ace on the mound, and we only have to make about five plays behind him in the infield," said Dougherty, whose team was 10-13 overall before playing Darby on May 7 and 6-7 in the OCC-Central before playing Marys-ville on May 8. "(Of the 21 outs in a seven-inning game) he usually gets about seven fly-ball outs, he strikes out about a half dozen and has around three comebackers to the mound. You know what to expect from him."
At the plate, Chrysler, who also plays shortstop, was batting .433 with a .507 on-base percentage and had struck out only once in 73 plate appearances. He had two home runs, nine doubles, one triple, 21 RBI and had scored 15 times.
"I really don't pay attention to stats much. I just go out and play," he said. "Last year, my mom (Kathleen) showed me a paper that said I was near the top in the area in RBI. After that, I had about a 10-game drought without an RBI. You can't think about those things."
Dougherty said his other players will have to make adjustments in their games without Chrysler. They pulled together May 1 by beating Thomas 4-3. The Cardinals had lost only one OCC-Central game before that.
"Jacob is just a fun-loving, high-energy kid. He's a great young man," Dougherty said. "Sometimes I wish he had more of an edge because I don't think there is a nasty bone in his body. He will be our biggest cheerleader while he is out."
Chrysler believes his passion for the game has been a big reason for his success.
"More than anything, I just enjoy being at the diamond," he said. "It's my biggest joy I have in my life, and this is just my favorite time of the year.
"I think the game is more mental than anything and you have to stay in the moment if you are going to be successful. I just love playing the game."
Chrysler will play in college at Mount Vernon Nazarene, where he hopes to pitch and play in the field.
"If I get my velocity up, I could probably play in the field and be a relief pitcher," said Chrysler, adding his fastball has been clocked at 84 mph. "I probably need to work on my foot speed. If I was faster today, I probably wouldn't be sitting here with my arm in a sling."