MUNSTER | The first hamstring tear came when Joe Bryant was rounding second base and trying to take third.
The Munster outfielder felt the pain and knew something was wrong.
The second one came as he was headed to first base, halfway there he had to pull up.
Recovery from both tears meant missing the sectional. It also meant more than waiting on the muscles to heal themselves.
Bryant, who is starting his senior season with the Mustangs, vowed to lose weight.
“Battling a torn left hamstring and a partial tear in the right, I had to lose weight,” Bryant said.
He eliminated sodas, ate fewer carbohydrates and asked his mother to make more chicken.
He’s down 20 pounds from a year ago, and the time he spent in the weight room has added pop to the power already in his bat.
“The report is already out on him,” Munster coach Bob Shinkan said. “He will likely never see a fastball again, they’re all going to adjust how they pitch to him. We have to work in him using all fields.”
In a matchup last weekend against Terre Haute South, Bryant hit a pair of doubles and a two-run home run before the Braves opted to walk the right-handed hitter.
“My favorite quote on him so far was the Terre Haute South coach, after the game told (the Tribune Star) that Bryant went ‘double-double-bomb,'” Shinkan said. “That’s exactly it, ‘double-double-bomb.’ Then they walked him and he didn’t have to worry about running.”
Bryant’s value to the Mustangs is also on the mound. The senior has moved to a closer role, with three relief appearances and five strikeouts in four innings. He’s allowed two runs and four hits, all to Terre Haute South, in which he earned the save.
“We need to groom him as a closer,” Shinkan said. “We’re teaching him what that means to be a closer and to come in for the last inning or the last two innings.”
Bryant has signed with South Suburban College with plans to major in computer sciences.
In the meantime, he continues to impress his teammates — and Mustangs fans — with his bat.
In an outdoor batting practice last week, he took 11 of 15 pitches over the wall, forcing the Mustangs to station junior varsity players behind the fence just to find what Bryant hit out.
“My goal this season is to just keep playing,” Bryant said. “I love hitting. Just keep hitting.”