A herniated disc in his lower back and torn labrum in his right shoulder weren’t enough to keep University of Indianapolis baseball player Devon Hensley out of the starting lineup.

Unfortunately, his third injury this season proved too much to overcome.

Hensley, a sophomore center fielder who was hitting .274 from the No. 9 spot in the Greyhounds’ batting order, suffered a broken jaw when he was hit by a pitch in the second game of a doubleheader at St. Joseph’s College on March 24.

He is expected to be out the remainder of the season.

“I squared to bunt and took a two-seamer off the jaw,” said Hensley, a 2015 graduate of Center Grove High School. “It came running inside. I tried to get out of the way, but not in enough time.

“Up until that point, I thought my season was going really well. I was hitting OK, but that’s really not what I’m here for. On defense, I’m here to run everything down in the outfield.”

Not having Hensley’s impressive fielding range and instincts is a crushing blow to UIndy (20-9), which came out of last week ranked No. 12 in Division II.

Gary Vaught, now in his 23rd season as the Greyhounds’ coach, knows Hensley’s absence is going to be felt off the diamond as well.

“To lose Devon, that kid and the way he plays … he’s always gone the extra mile for this program,” Vaught said. “He does everything we ask of him. And any time the ball is hit, I know he’s going to catch it.”

Hensley is one of four UIndy players who played their high school baseball in Johnson County.

Another Center Grove alum, freshman Will Smithey, recently stepped in as the team’s starting catcher. Former Greenwood pitchers Reid Werner, a freshman, and Jonathan Bowen, a redshirt junior, are also on the roster.

With more than 20 regular-season games and the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament remaining, Hensley refuses to be just another body in the UIndy dugout. He’ll chart tendencies of opposing pitchers and hitters for his future benefit.

Vaught, who clings to the slim hope Hensley could be back this season if the Greyhounds can advance to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional from May 18 to 21, already has witnessed the sophomore’s allegiance.

One day after his jaw injury, Hensley was standing on the top step of the dugout cheering on teammates during a doubleheader at then-No. 18 St. Joseph’s.

On Thursday, he underwent surgery at Indiana University Health Hospital in Indianapolis to repair his jaw. Hensley must adhere to a “soft food” diet until at least April 13 and perhaps longer.

“I miss him already,” Vaught said. “The kids we’ve had from Center Grove and Greenwood have just been great, but Devon is a catalyst. We just have to reload and move forward with the kids we have.”

By the numbers

Devon Hensley’s baseball statistics at the University of Indianapolis:

Year;Games;Starts;Avg;HR;RBI

2016;56;54;.268;6;36

2017;21;21;.274;0;10

Author photo
Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.