The wait is paying off for Trent Clark and the Brookhaven College baseball team.
The Navasota High School graduate has returned from Tommy John surgery in March 2018 to become a valuable member of the pitching staff.
The 6-foot freshman opened the season pitching in relief but earned a win in his first start, March 25.
"He's been throwing well," Brookhaven head baseball coach Brandon Rains said. "He's got excellent stuff. We expect big things from him."
Rains noticed the right-hander when he was a junior in high school and decided he was worth recruiting despite suffering the torn ulnar collateral ligament his senior year.
"He worked really hard through his rehab," the coach said. "Trent's parents did a fantastic job of raising him. If he sees a job that needs to be done, he does it."
Clark has appreciated the support, especially because it's not uncommon for college coaches to lose interest in athletes who are injured their senior year.
"He's always been confident in me," he said.
He said he went six months without throwing and was cleared to throw during the fall.
He had two saves in six appearances before his start. He allowed one hit and one unearned run in two innings to earn the first save. He struck out two in a hitless, scoreless inning to collect the second save.
"He's got a firm fastball," Rains said. "He's got good location on the breaking ball."
He said Clark struck out 10 in five innings of his start against the Ranger College JV. "I'm just spotting up on my fastball early in the count. Later in the count the slider is working for me," Clark said. "I've had a lot of movement on my slider and my curveball."
The Ranger batters were patient in their strategy against him, he said, yet they were not rewarded.
"It's usually for me to make a mistake, hanging a slider or a curveball," he said. "They just never found that weakness in me."
"Our main goal is attacking the hitter and not giving any walks," Clark said.
He treats his arm with ice and compression after every time he throws.
"After I throw, it (the arm) occasionally feels tight, but it never hurts," he said.
His velocity has been 86 to 87 mph, Rains said.
"Every time he goes out there and demonstrates he can do something, his confidence grows," he said. "The more he goes out there, the better he gets."
Rain said he plans to use Clark in relief during conference games and to start him in non-conference games.
Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner firstname.lastname@example.org.