La Crosse, Wis. - "Pop, pain, and I was down for the count."
It started as a typical mid-February practice for UW-La Crosse senior outfielder Carter Hoffman.
"That quote, unquote "pop" that people have felt was exactly what I was feeling. So my mind immediately went to the worst possible outcome."
He avoided the worst, but Carter still experienced a partially torn UCL meaning he couldn't throw a baseball or swing a bat.
"A week or so after things settled down I was just standing outside the batting cages here when the pitchers were throwing live, just sitting and watching pitch after pitch after pitch in the bullpen. Just to be able to see that arm slot and see the ball coming into the catchers mitt."
Carter just wanted to make it back for one final game as a senior. But after rehab not only did he return to play 24 games, he leads the team with a .400 average and a slugging percentage of .675.
"He was hitting right away. And not seeing a live at-bat for I don't know how many months, stepping into the box and he's just as confident as last spring," said head coach Chris Schwarz. "Right away getting some hits really juiced us up a little bit and got us going."
"I have surprised myself like 10 fold. I am pretty darn lucky to have that happen and have the success that I have had."
The journey took an unexpected turn, but Carter and his teammates are back in the NCAA tournament.
"We're super excited and ready to get back at it and win some ball games and see where we can take it."
"Now he's healthy, he can't throw but he can swing. He's just a spark plug for our offense," said Schwarz.