Pisgah pitcher overcomes childhood accident

Pisgah pitcher Mason Herbert overcame a childhood ATV accident to earn a scholarship to UNC Charlotte (WLOS Staff).jpg

WLOS - When the big league teams start calling you it carries some weight. It's even more impressive when it begins before a player receives his high school diploma. That's the case for Pisgah Bears pitcher and center fielder Mason Herbert. The 6'3 right hander with a slider that he says breaks 8-10 inches and registers in the low 80's on the radar gun has already fielded interest from the Royals, Braves, Padres, and Yankees. "Probably after state games my sophomore year," he replied when asked at what point he knew he might have a future in the sport. "I started pitching well after that and then junior year I did really good." Herbert signed with UNC Charlotte in November, a sight his mother didn't think possible just six years ago. "To see him be able to go to the college level and maybe the next level after that," Sherry Lee-Herbert said before pausing for a couple seconds.

"You can do anything you want to do. anything."

Adversity is the foundation of athletic competition. Most of it, though, usually comes on the field and within the time frame of a game. Herbert's biggest hurdle came in a field as he and a friend were riding an ATV to go watch the undefeated Canton Middle School football team play. "It [the ATV] flipped, so I pushed my friend off and it flipped on me twice," Herbert remembered. While he doesn't remember feeling any pain in the moment, Herbert said his friend told him he was unconscious for around five minutes. The two trudged back up the hill towards the Herbert home when his mother found her son leaned over on the porch. "There was a big puddle of blood and his head was down, and I said, 'Mason!' He looked up and his eye had been pushed back into his face and his nose was just flattened. I said 'Oh my God, get in the car.'"

Sherry Lee-Herbert raced to Mission Hospital with her son in tow. "Fastest I've ever seen her drive," laughed Herbert. "At least 120." When they got to the hospital Mason was put on a ventilator, where he would stay for several days. He was diagnosed with a broken eye socket and jaw. He was forced to communicate with a pen and pad, and refused to go down when the staff tried to put him in a medically induced coma. "He wanted to make sure we knew we saved his friend," smiled Lee-Herbert.

Herbert missed 73 days of school while recovering from the injury. In fact, he will have another procedure in December just before either his first season of college ball or at the tail-end of his first season in the minor leagues, depending on what happens in the MLB Draft and what his family decides. "I still get headaches to this day," he explained, adding that he feels the most pain when it's about to snow or rain. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, Herbert's biggest worry was whether or not he would get to keep playing sports. "They were afraid because of if I got hit," Herbert remembered. "But, I wanted to play so bad that I just overcame it."

The high school baseball season is in the middle of a somewhat frenetic season. Due to weather schedules are constantly being shifted around and games are moved and rescheduled some times the day before. No matter what, however, Sherry Lee-Herbert is soaking up every second because each game is an opportunity to see something she thought her son had lost. "Any time you see him take the mound, you just see a miracle happen," she declared.

Pisgah wraps up its regular season next week with home dates against Franklin and Brevard, with the playoffs starting after.

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