Chris Cox was nearly un-hittable on the mound last year for East Lincoln as the right-handed pitcher gave up only two earned runs, also posting a school records seven wins and a 0.14 earned-run average.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior was also a key role player on the undefeated, 2AA state champion, Mustang football team.
But just as Cox was getting ready for his senior year at East Lincoln last July, he says a persistent pain his back went from bad to worse.
Cox found out he not only had a bulging and slipped disc in his back, but it has also led to a pinched nerve in left leg, that would force him to miss six months, according to his doctors
"I’m not going to lie, when I first heard I was going to be out six months, I thought it would be torture," Cox said. “But sitting out definitely made me appreciate the game (baseball and football) that much more. I still went to practices every day and helped out, but I was itching to get back on field the whole time."
Cox was finally cleared to get back on the field in late November, where was able to play in East Lincoln’s (football) season ending, 2AA state semifinal loss to Monroe.
Cox got a huge boast around the same time (November), when signed to play baseball for College of Charleston.
After six months of frustration, Cox is eager to make up for lost time on the baseball diamond.
The East Lincoln senior expects to be even better on the mound and at the plate in final season in a Mustang uniform.
"My goal is always to be better than I was the last game, the last season," Cox said. "I want to give up less than two runs this year."
While it won’t be easy for Cox to match his historic numbers from a year ago, he has the stuff – with a fastball that has topped out at 92 miles per hour -- to help East Lincoln (21-7 last year) make a run at another Southern District 7 conference title and go deep into the postseason (3rd round last year).
With six starters back, including another strong arm in left-handed, senior Alec Burleson (East Carolina signee), East Lincoln coach, Chris Matile and company believe they can be a contender.
"Every year, I ask our guys, especially the seniors, how do they want to be remembered, as the team that could have, should have, or did?" Matile said. "No matter what happened in the past, this is a new year and we all have to go out and prove ourselves. That’s the bottom line.
…I think Chris (Cox) wants to do that as much as anyone."
Charlotte Observer Baseball Players to Watch
Logan Davidson, Providence, Sr., Shortstop: Clemson signee could be a high MLB draft pick, and part of a loaded line with senior, All-American Jake Holtzapple (North Carolina signee) looking to repeat as 4A state champions
Henry Ryan, Ardrey Kell, Sr., Pitcher: University of North Carolina bound pitcher will be a major part of talented Knights
Drew Donathan, Charlotte Christian, Jr., Catcher: Clemson signee looks to help Knights to a 6th straight, NCISAA 3A state title
Jake Kuchmaner, Marvin Ridge, Jr.: Mavericks
Cole Maye, Hough, Jr., Pitcher/Outfielder: University of Florida commit living up to his family name on the diamond.