VIDALIA, Ga. (WSAV) – Every high school baseball team wants their season to end with a dog pile.
“I don’t even know what I’m feeling,” Kevin Cox said after Vidalia High won the 2022 GHSA Class 2A State Championship. “I can’t stop crying. I can’t stop tearing up.”
The raw emotion began pouring out of Kevin after an unforgettable season filled with its shares of ups and downs.
“It’s a written book,” Kevin said when thinking about his senior year.
To understand Kevin’s emotions, you have to go back to March of 2021, when he started feeling pain in his elbow.
“So, he went through his ninth-grade and part of his tenth-grade year and said, ‘Momma, something is just wrong,'” Kellie Cox, Kevin’s mother explained.
Kevin had a partial tear in his UCL.
“He [Kevin’s doctor] gave us the option and said, we could have Tommy John surgery and pitch again or don’t have Tommy John surgery, and he can at least still play second base.”
With Kevin’s heart still connected to the diamond, he opted for surgery.
Almost one year later, Kevin returned to the field — but his return would be short-lived.
“That pop fly went up, and I thought, ‘Oh, I got this,'” Kevin explained. “All I kept thinking is ‘I got it.'”
Against Appling County on March 7, Kevin found himself chasing down a foul ball from second base.
“I heard my catcher in the background… say, I have room, which I did have room. I just didn’t slow down when I was going to the fence,” Kevin said.
He face-planted into a pole.
“We’re sitting there, not even knowing what’s wrong with him,” Kellie said. “We just know he’s pouring blood from everywhere and found his teeth in the grass. So, we really didn’t know what his injuries were at the time.”
Kevin broke the spine of his nose, lost a few teeth, laceration to his chin and even had a boxer’s fracture to his hand.
“Coming off of a 10-month or 11-month recovery, [and] then going right back into a recovery phase, it was hard,” Kevin said. “It was super hard that was when I was like, I don’t really want to do this anymore.”
“He said, ‘Momma, I’m quitting.’ I said, ‘You’re not quitting,'” Kellie explained. “I said, ‘We are going to Dr. Aaron.'”
Dr. Don Aaron is the same doctor who fixed Kevin’s elbow.
After another round of surgeries and intense therapy, Kevin returned to the field in four weeks
“That kind of made me realize, you can’t take anything for granted,” Kevin said. “You can’t just jump out and say things. You got to play the game, trust it, and if you get hurt, recover and bounce back.”
Vidalia went on to win 30 games during the 2022 season, and Kevin would be a key contributor. His biggest moment came in game three of the state championship. Kevin pitched a complete game shutout and only gave up two hits.
“I knew it was a huge win, but during the moment, it felt like another win,” Kevin said. “But now that I kind of settled down and looked around — this is a big deal. This is going to be remembered forever.”
Vidalia won their first state championship in nearly 20 years and their third in program history.
“It’s a dream come true,” Kellie said. “I’m so happy for him. He’s worked hard for this, it’s what he’s wanted his whole life.
“And there were times we thought it probably wasn’t going to happen for him with all he went through. So, my heart is just bursting for him.”
Next year, Kevin will be a freshman at the University of South Carolina Aiken, where he’ll continue his career.
A true story of blood, sweat and tears.