Joe Nelson lost nearly all of his senior baseball season because of a knee injury suffered in a football game at Bishop Manogue midway through the season.
Nelson re-habbed relentlessly in an effort to get back on the field for the latter part of the baseball. He was successful, posting two wins, a save and a 3.07 ERA in the closing weeks to help the Carson Senators nail down second place and reach the regional playoffs.
Nelson was offered and accepted a baseball scholarship recently to Division II Central Washington University.
“From what I heard, they were recruiting the area, and they talked to coach Manoukian, the Muckdogs coach and the coach at Galena,” Nelson said. “They told the Central Washington coach about players to look at. They talked to coach Manoukian about me. They knew about my knee injury. I went up there for a visit the first day of spring break, did some light throwing and hit in the cage.
“The campus is really pretty. The sports facility is nice and so is the (baseball) field. The weightroom is really big, and they have a pre-med program.”
The latter was a big selling point because Nelson would eventually like to be an orthopedic surgeon.
“Joe is very athletic,” Central Washington coach Desi Storey said. “We see him as both a hitter and pitcher. On the mound, he has good arm strength and projects well with his size.”
Nelson said he was going to go to Arizona Western for baseball or Sierra College for football had it not been for CW’s offer. Now, Nelson has decided to not pursue football at all.
“I’m giving football a rest,” he said. “Central is paying me to play baseball, so I don’t want to jeopardize that by playing football. My knee is stable, but I am in pain still when I try to run or push off the mound.
“They took a chunk of my patella out for the graft, and (medical) people say the pain I’m having is normal. It was a tough decision.”
The strong-armed Nelson took over the starting QB job midway through his junior year, throwing for 1,130 yards and eight scores, and he followed that up last season with 1,251 yards and 14 scores.
Nelson helped the Senators to 19 wins in two seasons, and football coach Blair Roman said Nelson was getting a lot of interest from junior colleges and small four-year schools.
Because of the injury, Nelson realizes he has some ground to make up in baseball, and his summer stint with the Sun Devils is going to be critical in his future development.
“Everybody else got a full season of baseball (already),” Nelson said. “I don’t want to go into my freshman year of college without seeing live pitching.”
Nelson only had five at-bats this spring, and he hit .261 his junior season.
Storey said Nelson wouldn’t automatically be redshirted next year.
“We will use the fall to get him back up to game speed,” Storey said. “After that, we’ve got December and January to make sure he’s on track.”