Gully's Return from Injury Adds Fuel to Wall's Fire for Deep Run in 2019
WALL, TX -- This time last year, Wall senior pitcher Ryan Gully was hit with the toughest news he’s received in his young career -- he’d have to sit out a whole season after an elbow injury forced him to have Tommy John surgery.
“It just kind of hit me like a ton of bricks,” Gully said. “I didn’t know what to think because I’ve grown up on baseball. Baseball’s been my life. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to play it for 10 months or so, it was a big impact on my life.”
The injury happened during a select baseball tournament in Arizona. While pitching, Gully said he felt the ligament tear.
“I knew right there it wasn’t good,” Gully recalled.
The right-handed pitcher then set about rehabbing his arm over the next couple of months, not certain of the severity of the injury. But the rehab wasn’t helping. So, he got an MRI and the scan confirmed the worst.
“Whenever I got the MRI results back, that’s when the doctor told me that it was torn,” Gully said.
Six weeks after the surgery, Gully jumped back into rehab in order to get back as soon as possible. Returning to his team was his biggest motivating factor.
“He’s been busting his tail to get back,” head coach Jason Schniers said. “For me personally, just having to watch him sit there last year, I know it ate at him not being on the field. So, he wanted to make sure he was gonna be back. He worked extremely hard to get here.”
Knowing he’ll be back on the field, Gully is understandably excited about 2019.
“Sitting out for a year has just made me wanna come back and just get ready to play every single day,” Gully said. “It’s got me excited for this season.”
While he’s on the home stretch of the rehab program, Gully is expected to be ready in first couple of weeks of the season. That’s good news for Schniers, who has an embarrassment of riches with eight starters back from last year’s regional semifinal run. Four of those also served on the pitching staff.
“I think all the way around this year we’re gonna have good depth,” Schniers said. “We have guys that can play multiple positions. If we get Ryan back to where he was as a sophomore, we increase our chances of making a very very deep run. We have a lot of guys very capable on the mound, so being deep in that position is what you look for in a team that’s gonna make a deep playoff push. So, if we can get [Ryan] back to where he was as a sophomore, look for very good things.”
As a sophomore, Gully, who’s signed to Weatherford College, allowed just three earned runs while striking out 138 and compiling a 12-0 record en route to Wall’s first appearance in the state tournament.
“I feel like the possibilities are endless,” Gully said of this team’s potential. “The year that we did make the state run, we didn’t think we were the greatest team of all. But we knew we could go somewhere. Now, this year, we know we’re returning the most All-State players in the entire state. So, we’re gonna have a target on our back. We’re not gonna get our heads too big and gonna try to take care of business everyday.”
But why is the 5-11 righty dominant on the mound? Pitch command and the ability to read a batter, Gully’s teammates say.
“Spotting up, too, with his fastball and his curveball,” junior Caleb Heuertz added. “His change-up is really good too. He just knows how to spot up with that kind of stuff.”
Wall’s depth on the mound can be traced back to when the players started out in little league, according to Schniers.
“When they first start playing baseball, they start ‘em on the mound,” Schniers said. “And they buy in to what they’ve been taught from five years old all the way to when we get ‘em. Part of my philosophy is games are gonna be won on the mound and in the field. There’s gonna be games where you score 12 or 14 runs and there’s gonna be games where you score one run. You’ve gotta be able to win those kind of games. We take a lot of pride in being on the mound, throwing strikes and then playing our position behind that as well. We’ve had a lot of success in my time being here. A big part of that is the kids and their work ethic to be the best.”
The other advantage Wall has over most of the region is the extra time they had to practice together last year. Wall made the deepest run of Concho Valley teams and finished play on May 26. The next closest team from the Concho Valley was Reagan County, who finished in the regional quarterfinals against Shallowater.
“That’s huge,” Schniers said. “For teams that don’t make the playoffs, they finish in April. And we get to practice till almost June. That’s six extra weeks of practice. Those guys that play on the JV level and get moved up, they get those extra reps. I think it pays big dividends for us for this coming season. Those guys take a lot of pride and they want to be a part of that. So, that cycle continues year after year.”
District newcomer Brady returns nine starters from their 2018 district and bi-district championship team, Grape Creek returns 10 starters from a young squad last year and Ballinger and Reagan County each have eight starters back from playoff squads. Schniers thinks that will make the district just as competitive as last year.
“It’s gonna be pretty competitive. I thought last year was pretty competitive,” Schniers said. “You throw Brady in there who won their district with a pretty young group. It’s gonna make us have to go to work and make sure we play. It’s gonna be fun to see who comes out on top in this district.”
Wall opens the season on Feb. 18 at home against Midland Lee’s JV team.
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