Riverdale HS pitcher rejoins team in playoffs after health scare - WSMV Channel 4

Riverdale HS pitcher rejoins team in playoffs after health scare

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It was all about the boys of summer Wednesday evening in Murfreesboro as Riverdale and Tullahoma high schools' baseball teams faced off in the regional finals.

But the cheers were not just for the players on the field. One teammate in particular is getting a lot of support.

In the Riverdale dugout there was also an extra sense of excitement to see Clay Riggs finally back and wearing Warriors' colors.

Riggs is just lucky to be alive.

"It's great to be out here, cheering with them, because, I mean, I haven't gotten to see them play all year," Riggs said.

Instead, the 6'6" pitcher has spent a lot of his junior year in a hospital bed after he underwent what was expected to be a typical knee surgery in the fall.

However, after a follow-up surgery in February, Riggs' lungs collapsed and he nearly died.

"Went in thinking I would be there just a few days, but it ended up being nine weeks," he said.

During that time, the baseball season started without Riggs on the mound. But in the hospital, as Riggs fought for life, he also clung to his love of baseball.

And on the field, his teammates and coaches kept the spirit of No. 24 strong.

"Pitchers will draw the number on the back of the mound for me. They're a great team. I mean, they're not really like a team. They're like my family," Riggs said.

"He's never been absent as far as that goes. Just physically he's been gone. As far as spiritually and mentally, he's been with us he whole time," said head coach Barry Messer.

Riggs said as he fought to recover, he had one goal in mind: to return this season and rejoin the Warriors.

What once seemed impossible has come true.

"He's here and he's completed us as a team," Messer said.

"I was determined to get out here and watch them at least one game and end up coming out for a couple games and we're still moving on," Riggs said.

Riggs is in therapy now and still has a long way to go before he's back on the field pitching, but he said he is determined to pitch next season.

After beating Tullahoma, the Warriors next play Friday for a spot in the state tournament.

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