Senior glad to be back

By Kevin Eckleberry

May 5, 2014

He was knocking the cover off the ball.

Early in the 2013 season, LaGrange High’s Caleb Buchanan was red-hot, and it seemed like every time he swung the bat he was getting on base.

Opponents couldn’t stop Buchanan, but an injury could.

Before the Grangers began their region schedule, Buchanan suffered a knee injury in a game against Opelika.

It was a severe injury, one that kept Buchanan from playing the rest of the season.

Buchanan eventually had knee surgery, so he not only missed much of his junior season, but he also wasn’t able to participate in the off-season program while he recovered from the surgery.

What kept Buchanan going, though, was the knowledge that he had another season of high-school baseball.

“I guess the only thing I could look forward to was the next year, knowing that I’d get to play one more year,” Buchanan said. “At least getting hurt then I’d be able to play my senior year.”

It hasn’t been an easy road for Buchanan.

He wasn’t able to prepare for the season like he normally does because of the surgery and its aftermath.

“It was only a month, a month and a half before baseball season that he was able to do a little bit,” LaGrange coach Todd Herrington said. “He lost a lot of timing, he lost some mechanics and that kind of thing. He’s had to adjust to his knee brace and that sort of thing.”

Predictably, Buchanan started the season a bit slowly, but as LaGrange heads into a second-round playoff series against Lanier, it looks like he’s back to being the hitter he was last season.

Buchanan had some big hits in a first-round victory over Northwest Whitfield, and he has been in the middle of a lot of offensive rallies during the Grangers’ late-season surge that propelled them into the playoffs.

“I think I’ve got back in the swing of things,” Buchanan said.

Early in the season, Herrington said “we kind of had to ease him into it,” and Buchanan wasn’t getting a whole lot done.

“There were some times where he didn’t look good, and he’ll tell you. He was frustrated,” Herrington said. “But he kept working, and he did the extra work, and he’s started to swing the bat well.”

One of Buchanan’s best moments of the season, fittingly, came on senior night.

The Grangers were trailing 7-6 against Sandy Creek in a critical region game, and Buchanan came through with a two-home run to spur his team to a 9-7 victory.

That win helped the Grangers make the playoffs after missing out a year ago.

The Grangers lost four straight games to fall to 4-5 in the region, but they answered with a four-game winning streak to make the playoffs as the region’s number four seed.

“We were close to losing the season. That didn’t happen,” Buchanan said. “Once the hitting started coming, we were pretty good. We’ve always been pretty solid defensively.”

The last time the Grangers were in the playoffs, in 2012, Buchanan was a sophomore, and he played a lot on a team that made it to the final eight.

Now as a senior he’s back in the playoffs, and he hopes the ride continues for awhile.

“It’s been fun,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get farther (than the 2012 team).”