Knee injuries don’t usually come at a good time, but when Takahiro Yamada tore a meniscus in his knee last year, it wasn’t at the worst time.
That’s because the Columbus East second baseman already had committed to play baseball at Butler earlier in his junior year. After missing most of that junior season, Yamada signed his national letter of intent in the fall to play for the Bulldogs.
Now, he’s back on the field for his senior season, where he has led the Olympians to a 10-3-1 start.
“It’s great,” Yamada said. “I was so excited to come back and play.”
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This spring, Yamada is making up for lost time. He leads East with a .474 batting average and has seven doubles, a triple and 14 runs scored.
Wednesday afternoon, he’ll lead the Olympians into a battle at crosstown rival Columbus North.
“I’m excited for each game,” Yamada said. “I just try to focus on each game and try to do my best. I didn’t do anything for the team last year, so I’m just trying to have a good year this season.”
Yamada, who moved with his family from Japan when he was in middle school, started about half the games at second base for East his freshman year. His sophomore year, he was a full-time starter, shifting between second, shortstop and the pitching mound.
That sophomore year, Yamada batted .338 with four doubles, a triple and seven RBIs in helping the Olympians to a 19-7 record and their first Hoosier Hills Conference title in 13 years.
Primed for a big junior year, Yamada tore the meniscus during the preseason. He tried to play as designated hitter for the first three games of the regular season, but the knee got worse, and he shut it down for the season.
Following the school year, Yamada had surgery to repair the knee. He returned to the diamond for a few travel team games in August.
“He’s a good hitter, and we’ve known that since he was a freshman,” East coach Jon Gratz said. “He plays a great second base. Obviously, he gets the job done on offense. He didn’t get to play much last year, but he’s healthy, and he’s hitting the ball like we know he can.”
Yamada committed to Butler and coach Steve Farley in December of his junior year. The Bulldogs are currently 12-31 overall and 3-9 in the Big East Conference.
Although he hasn’t committed to a major, Yamada is thinking of possibly studying business in college.
“I’m excited,” Yamada said. “It’s a good baseball team. They’re the first one that talked to me about college baseball, and they’ve been always close to me. Coach is so nice, and it’s a good school education-wise.”
But first, Yamada hopes to lead the Olympians to their first sectional title since 1999.
“We want to try to win the sectional, and for each game, just try our best and have a great year,” Yamada said.
What: Columbus North vs. Columbus East baseball
When: 5 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Southside Elementary