Pro Baseball player back to play after a skydiving injury

Posted: March 23, 2013 by JonoShmono "SykOse. Live. Extreme." in Air, Sky diving
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Injured FSU outfielder Stephen Spradling sits in the Dick Howser Stadium stands with his fiance, Brittany Murray, after making the drive up from South Florida on Friday.

Injured FSU outfielder Stephen Spradling sits in the Dick Howser Stadium stands with his fiance, Brittany Murray, after making the drive up from South Florida on Friday. The trip took longer than expected due to traffic in South Florida, but Stephen Spradling finally made it to Howser Stadium on Friday night.

With three innings to spare.

The Florida State senior outfielder, seriously injured in a skydiving accident on Dec. 30, returned to Tallahassee for the first time since the mishap.

Spradling, from Boynton Beach, arrived in the seventh inning of the second game between FSU and Georgia Tech.

“It is amazing to be out here, to watch my team and still be part of it,” said Spradling, a reserve outfielder in his first season with the Seminoles last year.

“The fans here are amazing. They treat me as family, and it’s great to be back. It was nerve-racking because we were worried (the game) was going to end. The game was going pretty fast at the start.”

On crutches and accompanied by his fiancé, Brittany Murray, Spradling received a nice cheer from fans as he slowly and cautiously made his way to a seat behind the Seminoles’ dugout.

Encouraged by the Animals of Section B, he also did the “NOLES Cheer” while on crutches.

A number of fans stopped and talked with Spradling, who sustained multiple broken bones during his problematic landing.

Spradling waited until most fans exited before he made his way to FSU’s locker room. He said he also plans to attend Sunday’s game.

“I saw everyone run up to the front of the dugout and look up,” FSU assistant coach Mike Martin Jr. said.

“They were, ‘It’s Sprad, it’s Sprad!’ They were all smiles and it made everyone feel great. It’s a neat thing for everyone to see him getting better.”

Center fielder Seth Miller talked with Spradling numerous times during the week and said everyone was looking forward to his return.

Pitcher Scott Sitz said Spradling remains an important part of the team.

“It’s great to have him back here, and he’s such a good guy to have around,” Sitz said. “It’s terrible what happened to him, and we all miss him.”

Miller’s gems

Seth Miller’s career at FSU has been defined by his versatility, defensive skills and flair for the dramatic.

Friday was another perfect example.

The senior center fielder threw out runners at home plate in the fourth and fifth innings to help set the tone in Florida State’s convincing 11-3 victory over Georgia Tech in the second of two games at Howser Stadium.

FSU, which dropped the opener 10-0, was protecting a 3-1 lead when the left-handed Miller showed off his strong throwing arm. Twice.

With two outs in the fourth, Georgia Tech’s Daniel Palka was gunned at home by Miller when he tried to score from second base on a single up the middle by Matt Gonzalez.

Miller’s second assist was much more impressive.

With runners on first and third with no outs in the fifth, Miller raced to his right and caught Kyle Wren’s fly ball.

Miller pivoted and fired a strike to catcher Stephen McGee to throw out Mott Hyde for the double play.

“It’s one of my favorite three things to do in baseball – throwing a guy out, making a diving catch and hit a home run,” said Miller who has four assists this season and was tied for second on the team last season with three assists.

“The first one wasn’t one of my best throws of the year, it went straight into the ground. But it was on line and Meat (assistant coach Mike Martin Jr.) preaches accuracy. The second one, it happened real fast. I didn’t think the guy (Hyde) was going.”

Miller said it was an important victory for the Seminoles after they were blanked in the opener.

“A lot of guys were down, we came out here and got stomped,” Miller said. “Sometimes I think a team needs that, when you get beat like that, to build off it and kind of helps you in the future. That’s not us. That’s now how we play.”

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