Bisson takes hit in stride


The UK Baseball team plays Bowling Green at Cliff Hagan Field on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

Chris Bisson was expecting a curveball.

He got a fastball to the face and a fractured nose.

UK’s junior second baseman came to the plate in the first inning in San Diego looking to get UK on the scoreboard early.

“I was down 1-2, so I was expecting a curveball,” Bisson said. “He came back with a fastball a little too inside. I just froze. When I tried to turn it was too late.”

By a little too inside, Bisson means the pitch sailed straight into his nose, taking him to the ground.

“There was blood everywhere,” Bisson said. “I was on my hands and knees laying there. I looked down and saw I was dripping blood. But I could still see fine so I knew it wasn’t too bad.”

After being attended to by team trainers, Bisson went back to the dugout with his towel over his nose, now streaming blood. The first thing he did after the horrific injury?

Crack a joke.

“The guys all laughed,” Bisson said. “And then they saw it and the laughter went to ooooohs.”

Bisson had surgery to repair his nose while in California and will wear a plastic mask when he returns. He is currently out at least until next week, after which he will be re-evaluated.

But there’s no need to re-evaluate how much a baseball flying close to 90 mph hurts when it connects with the nose.

“It was definitely one of the top ones,” Bisson said regarding if that was the worst pain a baseball has inflicted on his body. “It happened, and I was like, ‘All right, this hurts.’ ”

This hurts. It might seem an understatement to some. But Bisson said that’s just his mentality.  No pain. The ultimate warrior.  A fractured nose won’t stop him.

“It’s going to be all mental coming back, but like that won’t get me,” Bisson said. “I refuse. I’m going to just have to overcome it.”

Bisson hasn’t been the only one getting beaned by opposing pitchers, although his case was certainly the worst. UK batters have been hit a nation-leading 42 times, according to Part of that is simply facing wild pitchers – the Cats were hit a staggering 10 times in one game – and part of that is a team embracing of taking one for the team.

“If that ball is coming toward us, we’ll turn and take it,” Bisson said. “We don’t like to move. We’re tough. That’s our mentality. It just goes to show we’re not afraid of anything.”

For now, UK has to overcome the temporary loss of Bisson, a top offensive bat whose current 10-game hitting streak is merely on hiatus. The Cats have employed junior Neiko Johnson, who brings blazing speed on the basepaths, at second base. Johnson has reached base 13 times. He’s also stolen nine times in those 13 trips.

“I do my job, help the team out with my speed,” Johnson said.  “I try to use my speed and steal bases. Anything I can do to help the team.”

It’s working. In one game against Evansville, Johnson had zero hits but still stole three bases and scored two runs. Once he gets on first base, he will have an impact.

“Pitchers are having to pick off more against me,” Johnson said. “People worry about me on the bases, but that gives guys behind me more fastballs to hit.”