FLORENCE — Dallas Broekhuizen’s 16th birthday was far from sweet. In fact it was scary.
Instead of rejoicing in Florence’s first win against Little River-Academy, his mind was filled with concern.
The Buffaloes offensive tackle got caught between two defenders while pass blocking on a screen play. The play resulted in a partially torn MCL and completely torn meniscus.
But one thing that was never in doubt was getting back on the baseball field.
“I always knew that I was going to get better,” Broekhuizen said. “It kind of made me realize how much more special it (baseball) is.”
It may not have been easy, but the junior catcher is back and has provided the Florence baseball team with a much-needed boost behind the plate.
Through 15 games, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound junior has compiled an average of .378 with six RBIs and three doubles.
The injury during football season forced Broekhuizen to have season-ending surgery in November of 2012.
Despite his worst fear, Broekhuizen did not miss the baseball season as a sophomore in 2013, but it took some work and flexibility.
Broekhuizen made the move to third base for one season, but the longing to return behind home plate was too much.
Ironically, Broekhuizen became a catcher during his time as a youth select player, but did so reluctantly.
“My first years in baseball, I used to hate catching, I despised it,” Broekhuizen said. “I kind of gave in and started working on it.
But in the years since the move, Broekhuizen learned to embrace the position and is now thriving at it.
Florence head baseball coach Ronnie Allen said he’s allowed Broekhuizen to have more control of calling pitches and said he has many intangibles needed in a good catcher. One of the most important of which is his work ethic.
“He is sprinting, no matter what he does,” Broekhuizen said. “Football coaches tell you that he would run through a wall for you. He’s that type of kid.”
Broekhuizen said the injury and recovery gave him a new appreciation for the little things like crouching down in the catcher position.
“To me, catching is the most rewarding position even though you don’t hear a lot about it,” Broekhuizen said. “I’m putting in a lot of work and I’m getting a lot out of it personally.”
Though the Buffaloes have had their struggles this season, Broekhuizen does have some lofty goals for the next couple of years.
The junior wants to work on continuing to improve and earn a spot on a college roster, with his dream school being Baylor.
But for now, he wants to get Florence in the postseason and usher in a new era of Buffaloes sports under athletic director Joey McQueen.
“There are a lot of seniors on this team and Florence hasn’t been to the playoffs in awhile,” Broekhuizen said. “I just want to do what I can to help the team.”
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