NW Missouri Athlete Rebounds After Car Accident

By Matt Tritten | mtritten@kq2.com

Published 05/14 2014 08:12PM

Updated 05/14 2014 11:28PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Despite losing ten seniors off last year's squad, Northeast Nodaway turned its baseball program around.

After four wins in 2013, the Blue Jays are champs of the Northwest Missouri Baseball Conference and the top seed in Class 1, District 16.

"As a young baseball team, we've gotten better this year, and we've really taken a good step forward this year in becoming a top baseball team in the area," head coach Vance Proffitt said.

Andrew Faustlin's led the charge at Northeast Nodaway batting .500 with a team-high three home runs and 24 RBI. The junior is also tops on the mound with six wins and four complete games.

"A kid that throws 80 (miles per hour), mid-80s fastball in Class 1 baseball, he's hard to hit. He's been a great center of how we build a team and how we want to play."

The fact that Faustlin's playing at all is impressive in its own right.

After leaving football practice one evening last August, he was involved in a head-on car accident.

"I remember leaving Worth County from football practice going to Maryville, then going to Sheridan to pick up someone to eat," Faustlin said. "I don't really remember anything after that. The next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital bed. I didn't know what happened, where I was or anything."

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Faustlin and three passengers were driving east on Missouri 246 near Sheridan when he made an illegal lane change. Gavin Hawk, driving west, also changed lanes resulting in the collision.

Troopers say no one in the wreck had their seat belts fastened.

Faustlin's car was totaled, and he was life flighted to Heartland. He sustained a collapsed lung, cracked a bone in his shoulder and broke his jaw in two places.

"They said they were going to take me to Kansas City to Children's Mercy, but I wasn't going to make it if they waited that long," Faustlin said.

"This school wasn't a real fun place the first couple days," Proffitt said of Northeast after the accident. "Everybody was down. We were worried about making sure he's going to live and be able to walk again and use his jaw again."

Faustlin missed the entire football season, and most of basketball, but he's made a full recovery.

And despite a slow start, he's back to form as the Blue Jays ace on the mound.

"It was cold and windy and he didn't throw well at all," Proffitt said of the season opener against Mid-Buchanan. "Then he came out the very next time just blowing people away. You could kind of see that look back in his eye, 'hey, I can do this', and everybody gets behind him."

"I didn't feel ready to come back mentally or physically, but right now I feel as good as I have before," Faustlin said.

With districts starting next week, he's hoping to lead Northeast Nodaway deep into the postseason.

But regardless of the outcome in the coming games, Faustlin knows how fortunate he is to still be playing each time he puts that uniform on.

"I do think about it before games. I'm just happy I'm here and able to play a sport that I love like baseball."

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