McCann is at full strength for Milton
The common term is sports hernia.
All Sam McCann knows is that it’s extremely painful.
The Milton High School senior was sidelined 14 weeks by what he originally thought was an abdominal strain. He was eventually diagnosed with a sports hernia—chronic groin pain in athletes caused by a dilated superficial ring of the inguinal canal.
The injury cost McCann the last half of the football season and the first third of the basketball season. He’s making up for lost time on the baseball diamond.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound fireballer is 6-1 as the ace of the Milton staff. He has a 0.62 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 43 innings pitched. Scouts have clocked his fastball as high as 89 miles per hour, while his curveball borders on unhittable.
McCann helped lead the Red Hawks to the school’s first Badger South Conference baseball title, but the sports hernia robbed him of the opportunity to do the same in football and basketball.
“I tried to play through it but it just kept getting worse,” McCann said. “There were days where it was tough just getting out of bed. I gained some weight because I couldn’t do anything.
“It finally started getting a little bit better during the basketball season, and when the doctor said I wouldn’t need surgery, that’s when I came back.”
McCann, the son of Steve and Shelly, led the basketball team in scoring with a 13.1 average. He scored a season-high 26 in a nonconference win over Janesville Parker and 22 in a win over Badger South champion Stoughton.
On the baseball field, McCann is a big reason the Red Hawks have an excellent shot at a Division 1 state berth. Along with Hill College (Texas) recruit and heavy-hitting Dane Burman, McCann has the physical tools to take over a game.
“The biggest difference with Sam in the last year is that he has learned how to pitch,” Milton first-year coach Ryan Neuenschwander said. “He knows he doesn’t just have to rely on that fastball where guys can sit and just try to get a bat on the ball knowing because he throws 88 or 89 mph, the ball is going to fly.
“When Sam gets to college and concentrates on just one sport, baseball, I can’t wait to see how that translates. Working with a college coaching staff, or even a major league staff, is going to help him develop even more arm strength and a third pitch.”
McCann is leaning toward playing for Madison Area Technical College next year. The WolfPack advanced to the NJCAA Division II World Series for the third straight season.
First up, though, is the WIAA postseason tournament. Milton is a No. 2 seed and opens play a week from today at home against either Stoughton or Fort Atkinson.
“Winning conference is great, but we want a lot more,” McCann said. “I’ve been playing with a lot of these guys for a long time. Getting to state was something we’ve always talked about.
“We had seven of nine starters back and all of our pitching. Guys on the team know their roles.”
McCann’s role is to keep the opposing team in check.
Now fully healed from an injury he still doesn’t understand, Sam McCann is now inflicting the pain.
Last updated: 8:17 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012