Scott Crabtree wasn’t going to let something as simple as leg cramps stop him Friday night.
So with the game against John Curtis tied 4-4, the Jesuit senior stepped in the batter’s box in the sixth inning just as calm as he had done in his previous three at-bats.
He hit a grounder to second base and limped his way to first base on what could have been a double play ball. Teammate Nick Ray crossed the plate for what proved to be the game-winning run.
It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Crabtree never lets anything slow him down on the baseball diamond.
Not even the curveball that life pitched to him back in July 2007.
He was losing weight and having mood swings.
“I could show you pictures of him back then and he looked like a PVC pipe, just super thin,” said Skip Crabtree, Scott’s father. “We were so worried about him.”
Scott was 10 that day he was diagnosed with Type I diabetes.
“It was shocking and scary,” he recalls. “I didn’t know what it meant.”
His parents weren’t quite sure what it meant either.
“At first, I thought it was the end of the world because I never thought he would play sports again,” his mother, Breni, said. “He proved me wrong.”
Crabtree wasted little time proving them wrong.
The day he was diagnosed in New Orleans, he returned to a tournament in Lake Charles to play in a tournament with his youth team.
“I have to go, I’m pitching tonight,” he insisted that day.
He no longer pitches, the position his father played in college at Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe).
Crabtree, 18, now stars in left field and third base for Jesuit.
Hitting has always been his strong suit, which explains why Jesuit coach Joey Latino pencils Crabtree in at the No. 3 spot when he fills out the lineup card. He is batting right around .400 this season.
“He is about as tough as they come,” Latino said. “And about as gentle as they come. But put him between the white lines with the lights on and he is going to give you as great an effort as you can ask for. He has tremendous character and is a great leader. To think about what he has to battle on a day-to-day basis says a lot about him. He never lets it be known. He just goes about his business in a very business-like manner.”
Crabtree admits it hasn’t always been easy.
Under his No. 7 jersey he wears an insulin pump that he nicknamed “Pan Chris,” a play on the word “pancreas” that the pump functions as.
He has worn the insulin pump for five years.
“It’s been tough and an adjustment, but now that I’m eight years into it, going on nine, it’s second nature,” he said. “If I go to a meal and don’t check my blood sugar, it’s a big deal. ... But I don’t have any limitations as far as what I can do.”
Well, there’s one, he points out, with a laugh.
“I have to drink Powerade Zero, instead of regular Powerade.”
Other than that, you’d never know Crabtree was diabetic.
He is a solid 6-foot-1, 205 pounds now, far removed from where he was back in 2007.
And his play on the field leaves no indication either.
“He doesn’t miss a beat,” Latino said. “He does what everybody else does as hard as they do it and as long as they do it.”
Crabtree says it’s the only way he knows how to play the game.
“I don’t use it as an excuse like some people would,” Crabtree said. “I could go to practice and use it as an excuse and not want to run, but I don’t see it as an excuse or a handicap at all. With new people that I meet, I want them to understand what I’m going through and not feel sympathy.”
The Blue Crab, a nickname given to Scott years ago, and his family and friends participate in the annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation fund-raising event.
There were about 45 or so members in the most recent walk in November, all part of “Team Blue Crab.”
“We hope they find a cure in his lifetime,” Breni Crabtree said.
But if they don’t, Scott doesn’t plan to let it slow him down. He has already signed to play at UNO, something that makes his parents beam with pride.
“He never went through that stage of “OK, I’m not going to do this anymore,” his mom said. “Hopefully, when people meet him, he can be an inspiration. Just because you go through something like this, it doesn’t mean life is over.”