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Patrick Henry senior battles back

05/06/2014, 1:00pm PDT
By Kristian Ibarra • U-T

Patriots center fielder overcomes knee injury, contributes to team's playoff push

Patrick Henry center fielder Morgan Hatch injured his knee playing quarterback for the Patriots football team.

Two years ago, Morgan Hatch was all but sure he’d be playing baseball at the next level.

After three knee surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy, the Patrick Henry High senior is wondering if he still has what it takes to earn a spot on a college team.

A two-sport athlete, Hatch enjoyed a relatively scratch-free career playing football and baseball.

It wasn’t until his junior year when he tried to earn a spot as the starting quarterback on the Patriots’ varsity football team that Hatch’s luck ran out.

In a preseason scrimmage, he held onto a pitch-option snap and cut upfield.

“I felt it all and I knew right away,” Hatch said.

He tore the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus in his right knee.

His father and Patrick Henry’s wide receiver coach, Blair Hatch, was on the field when his son went down. A wide receiver at La Jolla High in 1982 and at Humboldt State in ’87, Blair didn’t initially think much of seeing Morgan hold his knee.

“I was just waiting for him to get up,” Blair said. “When he didn’t, that’s when it started to sink in.”

It would be 10 months before Hatch could play football or baseball again.

The Patriots’ varsity center fielder since his sophomore year, it was difficult for Hatch to cope with knowing how much time he’d need to miss.

The lengthy recovery time didn’t stop Hatch from doing everything he could to return. For inspiration, he looked to Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and the unexpected season the Pro Bowler had just nine months after tearing his ACL.

“When he came back so fast it made me think, ‘Geez, why can’t I come back that fast,’ ” Hatch said.

The injury won’t stop Hatch from attempting to play baseball at San Diego State as a walk-on. If that doesn’t work out, his athletic career isn’t the only thing on Hatch’s mind. He wants to be a physical therapist.

“Instead of just focusing on where my athletic career was going to take me,” Hatch said, “I realized what I could gain.”

Hatch, who’s hitting .231 with 12 RBIs this season, isn’t the only one persevering. Patrick Henry (16-9, 1-6 Eastern League) is battling for a spot in the San Diego Section Division I playoffs. With Hatch expected to be in the lineup, the Patriots host Scripps Ranch at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Said Patriots coach Jack Lococo: “Just watching him grow as a young man and come back is inspiring.”

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