The ground ball rocketed toward Josiah Snyder, bounced once, hitting him in the chest before he caught it and hurled it toward first base to get the hitter out.
“I can’t believe I made that,” Streeter Stuart, Penn Manor High School’s baseball coach, recalled Josiah saying as he ran back into the dugout with his teammates.
Looking back, that play in the team’s last game of the season, was the perfect conclusion to Josiah’s high school baseball career, Stuart said.
“It was a miracle that he played baseball at all,” he said.
Josiah was driving to Penn Manor’s weight room on July 23, 2018, when he lost control of his car on a wet road and crashed into a telephone pole.
He spent the next 12 days — unconscious most of the time — in the trauma neurological intensive care unit at Lancaster General Hospital.
Then his recovery started — another week at the hospital, a month at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital for intensive rehabilitation, then 2½ months of outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy.
And now, 10 months after the accident, Josiah joined his peers Friday at Calvary Church as he graduated from the Coalition of Homeschoolers Across Lancaster County.
“We give a lot of that credit to God,” Jolene Snyder, Josiah's mother, said Tuesday. “We were told no school this year, and now he’s graduating.”
In the initial days, no one was sure what his future would hold, she said.
For Josiah, those early weeks of recovery are still foggy.
“I can’t comprehend the severity of my injuries,” Josiah said.
Pictures from that time fill in the gaps of his memory.
The doctors gave Josiah’s family, who live in Manor Township, a broad range of possibilities for his future. They were told his progress could span anywhere from full recovery to Josiah losing most, if not all, of his physical functions.
Since he also suffered a traumatic brain injury, doctors said it could take up to two years before they could determine if there were any lasting effects.
But he recovered quickly.
Josiah went from being transported to Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital unable to walk, to a month later walking out of the building on his own, his mother said.
He said although he still gets mentally exhausted and may need to take breaks to recuperate, physically he’s almost back to the level of strength he had before the accident.
‘God is my healer’
Being medically cleared to exercise and participate in the baseball season helped in his recovery, he said.
“I love the whole team and it’s just fun to have the interaction,” he said. “They’ve been very supportive of our family through the whole thing.”
And the team was equally excited to have Josiah back in the dugout, Stuart said.
Josiah pitched in several games and played in the field for a few more games. He didn't miss any games or practices throughout the season, Stuart said.
“I think a fair thing to say is that I don’t know if anyone expected that Josiah would have any chance of playing this spring at all,” he said.
Josiah believes his unexpectedly speedy recovery is due to God honoring the prayers of the community.
“I would like to somehow thank everyone who has lifted me up,” he said. “I don’t feel like there is an effective way to thank them all, there are just so many.”
His mom pointed out the significance of her son’s name.
“His name is Hebrew and means ‘God is my healer,’ she said. “God has honored his namesake and has healed him.”