“He’s committed to the game and loves it,” Dunn said. “He’s always striving to be perfect and if he falls short of that, then he makes sure he’s excellent.”
Mitchell’s determination and work ethic are especially notable considering all he’s had to overcome to reach his current point — a top-notch right-handed pitcher with a 3-0 record and 23 strikeouts on the mound, a team-high eight RBI at the plate and a scholarship to play at Radford next season. As a result, No. 3 South River is off to a 6-1 start.
Following his sophomore season, doctors discovered Mitchell had a blockage in the descending aorta of his heart. The issue was detected only after Mitchell came down with walking pneumonia.
“I had no symptoms and felt 100 percent fine as far as my heart, so it was a surprise,” Mitchell recalled following South River’s loss to Broadneck on Monday in which he went 2-for-2 with a run scored. “Sometimes my heart would beat fast but I didn’t think much of it.”
In July 2011, doctors surgically inserted a stent into Mitchell to help clear the blockage. Mitchell said he lost about 15 pounds, couldn’t lift weights for eight months and was held out of baseball for six months.
Though Mitchell’s time in the dugout proved frustrating, the honorable mention All-Met used the experience to polish his knowledge of baseball intricacies.
“I was used to playing all of the time, so being out and just watching gave me a whole different viewpoint,” Mitchell said. “Sitting and helping the coaches taught me the right way to approach the game, how to stay focused and not get upset at stupid things.”
Mitchell returned to the field in the fall of 2011, when he traveled to Florida to play with the Mid-Atlantic Rookies. In his first game back, Mitchell struck out nine batters from the mound and hasn’t let up since. As a junior, Mitchell hit .336 with 16 RBIs while striking out 40 batters as the Seahawks’ top pitcher. After fielding offers from Maryland and Radford, the senior chose to sign with the Highlanders in November.
Mitchell said, aside from a short surgical procedure last year to adjust his stent, he feels no pain or symptoms from his previous heart issue.
“The whole thing was shocking and I thought for a moment that I might not be able to play again, but once the cardiologist said I would definitely be back out there, I just wanted to get in and get it fixed,” Mitchell said. “I’m grateful that it all worked out and now I really do play every game like it’s my last.”
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