06/24/07 — All-Area baseball: Aycock's Sasser named top pitcher

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All-Area baseball: Aycock's Sasser named top pitcher

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on June 24, 2007 2:01 AM

Grant Sasser wondered if he'd ever pitch again.

During the early part of the 2006 season, Sasser appeared to be off to another good start until he felt something pull in his left arm.

An MRI revealed a strained ligament, which didn't require surgery. But months of rehabilitation awaited Sasser, who sat out the remainder of the spring and all of the American Legion season.

His worries escalated as he thought about not fulfilling a verbal commitment to North Carolina State, which he had made the previous fall.

"It was pretty bad," said Sasser. "I never saw myself as someone to get injured because I always did my exercises and stuff. It kind of shocked me.

"I did the rehab and I was just really happy to come back from it."

But that injury, said Sasser, served as a wake-up call.

"When an injury occurs like this they realize at any split moment, things that they've been doing since they were five or six years old, can all be taken away," said C.B. Aycock head baseball coach Charles Davis. "So I think he came back more focused this year and much more determined to prove he was 100 percent again."

Sasser did.

He officially signed with the Wolfpack and helped the Golden Falcons claim the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A championship.

For his efforts, Sasser is the 2007 News-Argus All-Area Baseball Pitcher of the Year.

That potential career-ending injury turned into a blessing in disguise.

"People don't realize how much time he spent running and working with a physical therapist just to get himself ready to pitch," said Davis. "His biggest concern this year was being cautious at times. As the year went on and his arm got stronger, his confidence improved.

"Our coaching staff had confidence in him the whole time."

Each time Sasser toed the rubber, Davis and his coaching staff loved their chances for a win. Who could blame them?

Sasser compiled an unblemished 10-0 record and 1.41 earned run average. He notched 88 strikeouts in 641/3 innings of work as C.B. Aycock collected the program's first state championship in 33 years.

"Grant's goal was to win a state championship," said Davis. "He's a had a great career here at C.B. Aycock. When he had the ball, he did whatever it took to make sure we had a chance to win the ball game."

Sasser was 5-0 before his season-ending injury.

"I'm very fortunate," said Sasser of his sterling success. "It's not just me pitching, it's also my team behind me. Our defense is great. My team behind me is the reason I've gotten all my wins in Aycock history."

Sasser's final mound appearance is one he won't forget -- at his future home, Doak Field on the N.C. State campus. He surrendered one run and recorded seven strikeouts in game one of the NCHSAA championship series against Southeast Guilford.

"He was so pumped to pitch in the state championship series and to be pitching at his future field at Doak Field," said Davis.

Sasser spent the next game in the dugout. As the anticipation grew of finally reaching that ultimate mountaintop in high school sports, he couldn't hold back his emotions. Sasser became vocal and kept his teammates involved on every pitch.

"It was just the best feeling," said Sasser. "You can't describe it."

The injury changed Sasser's focus. The workouts and a hunger to pitch again fueled his desire.

"At the moment the injury happened I thought it was one of the worst things to happen in my entire life, but in the end, it's probably one of the best things that could have happened to me," said Sasser.

There are no worries now.