Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

H.S. Baseball Coaches Sue Mom Who Accused Them of Abuse

Fortunately for me, my not-so-illustrious baseball career ended long before being forced to stand in the batter's box while coaches hurled balls at my hip and rib cage, in order to teach me "muscle memory to avoid potential injuries in an actual game." Getting hit with a baseball, even a training ball that is supposedly lightweight and soft, is not a pleasant experience.

Not so pleasant that a mom whose son participated in the drill reported the coaches to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services and the Knox County Sheriff's Office. But after an investigation found no wrongdoing, the coaches have turned the table, suing the mother for defamation, false light, outrageous conduct, and intentional interference with economic advantage.

Drilled During a Drill

The drill, supervised by Hardin Valley High School head coach Joe Michalski and assistant Zach Luther, was allegedly prompted by a player who stepped out of the batter's box to avoid being hit by a pitch. Players were forced to stand in the batter's box while Luther threw pitches and Michalski watched from first base, and players were not allowed to leave the batter's box during practice until they were hit by a pitch.

Sheri Super, whose son played shortstop for Hardin Valley at the time, was appalled, and took photos of a player's back, showing red marks on his lower left side and a bruise, supposedly from the drill. "What makes me angry is that my son has had two concussions since May of last year," Super told the Knoxville News Sentinel. "What if they would have accidentally hit him in the head? At that point, we are talking about double vision and cognitive functioning, not whether he has a career playing at Vanderbilt."

Soft Toss

Michalski and Luther were suspended in March, but reinstated after the DCS investigation resulted in no findings. Now they want Super to pay, to the tune of $6 million. Each coach is asking for $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages.

Their suit claims the drill was standard practice, employed a special "training" ball that was lightweight and soft, and that the player's bruise came from being hit with a real pitch during a scrimmage, and not during the drill.

My ribs are still happy I was better at hitting a shot than hitting a curve ball.

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