Injured player returns for one pitch

Senior Justin Hartman took the field for one pitch at the opening of the Montrose Senior Night game. PHOTO COURTESY JAMES ROSS-ROBERTSON

Senior Justin Hartman took the field for one pitch at the opening of the Montrose Senior Night game. PHOTO COURTESY JAMES ROSS-ROBERTSON

BY HEIDI ZENEFSKI

Justin Hartman is an all-around athlete at Montrose Area High School playing soccer, basketball and baseball.

But an injury left Hartman sitting out from his best sport – baseball. Some coaches had labeled him as one of the tops in the division so sitting on the other side of the fence instead of taking his place in the Meteor infield has been difficult for the player.

Hartman said, “It’s been really tough not being able to play. Baseball came so natural to me so just watching it and helping the guys made me enjoy it.”

Although benched for his final season, he remained a team leader, attending and suiting up for each game.

An exceptional player at the Little League level, Hartman has been playing the sport for 13 years, and carried his early talent over to the high school varsity squad, working to improve his skills each year.

“What I love about baseball is that it’s both mental and physical, also playing with my friends, and no matter what every team gets there chance at one another,” he said. His favorite memory of playing baseball is when he hit a homerun in a game against Mountain View in extra innings when he was in 10th grade.

Justin Hartman’s teammates rally around the player with hugs and cheers after the injured infielder was cleared to take the field for one pitch. PHOTO COURTESY JAMES ROSS-ROBERTSON

Justin Hartman’s teammates rally around the player with hugs and cheers after the injured infielder was cleared to take the field for one pitch. PHOTO COURTESY JAMES ROSS-ROBERTSON

The Montrose baseball team had its Senior Night celebration on May 8 and Hartman was cleared to play for one pitch. He was at third base when the first pitch of the game was thrown.

As soon as the ball was in the catcher’s glove, his teammates ran to him to hug him as the Montrose fans cheered and clapped. The Junior High Baseball team lined the backstop fence.

The cheers continued as Hartman made his way off the field with his coach, Ryan Soden, guiding him to the dugout where he was enthusiastically greeted by more teammates and his parents, Eddie and Pam Hartman.

Hartman plans attend Kutztown University in the fall to study finance and, hopefully, return to baseball.