BASEBALL: Pitcher makes comeback from two injuries

Coombs returns to mound after elbow and knee injuries

From reconstructive elbow surgery, commonly known as Tommy John surgery, to undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery, fifth-year senior Morgan Coombs has battled his way back to playing the game he loves.

Just 11 games into last season, Coombs was dealt a blow to his pitching arm.

"It was in the bullpen before the game [and] I was getting ready to go out there and start," Coombs said. "My arm had been really stiff from the game before and [there was] a huge pop when I threw a pitch. I just threw a fastball and it popped.

"At the time it loosened my arm up and everything was [in] full range of motion again in my forearm and elbow."

In the third inning, Coombs started to lose feeling in his right arm.

"My arm started feeling like it was on fire," he said. "In the fourth inning, I couldn't throw [at all] and my arm was wobbling."

Coombs finished the inning before he was pulled and examined by team trainers.

Two weeks later, Coombs began to throw again only to have the sharp pain return to his elbow.

Results from an MRI confirmed Coombs needed Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow.

Four months after surgery, Coombs was on his way to recovery, until the unthinkable happened.

"Me and my roommate were playing basketball this summer in the Field Sports building," he said. "We were just running with some guys and I was on a fast break and went to go for a layup [when] a guy [bumped] me and [my knee] popped."

The injury to Coombs' right knee stalled his recovery progress, setting him back even further.

"It was a major step back," Coombs said. "Right when I did it, I said to myself, ‘Coach is going to kill me.' I knew it would push my arm back more than I wanted to."

Nearly a year after his elbow surgery and a few months removed from ACL surgery, Coombs is on the way to becoming an important piece of this season's team.

"I actually feel healthy," he said. "This last week when we got out in some warmer weather, I felt really good. My knee felt great [and] my arm feels like it's starting to get stronger now."

Coombs is limited to 60 pitches per outing, and coach Alex Marconi keeps close tabs on his pitcher.

"He's still trying to feel his way back from surgery," Marconi said. "He will be a little bit up and down, and we understand that. But, we still expect him to be a huge part of this season and help us compete for a MAC Championship."

Getting both his elbow and knee to 100 percent is an ongoing process for Coombs, and he said he's glad he hasn't been pressured to coming back too early.

"Coaches understand the whole process," Coombs said. "They've been around the game long enough to know what it takes to come back. They've been more than patient enough with me. It's great having a good coaching staff that'll do that."

Within the next few weeks, Coombs plans on being inserted in the starting rotation.

"We have a very young team this year and I don't feel like there's a better spot I could be in to help out," he said.

Coombs has made four appearances, including one start this season, logging 7 2/3 innings and a 4.70 ERA for Ball State.

As for the rest of the season, Coombs said he feels things will fall in place for him to be triumphant.

"I think things are going to work out great," he said. "My arm feels better [now] than it has since I've been in college."