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California JV baseball player discovers brain tumor after being struck by foul ball

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Sometimes in life, what seems like a bad break is actually a terrifically lucky one. Just ask La Habra (Calif.) Sonora High sophomore Owen Start.

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La Habra Sonora junior varsity pitcher Owen Start and coach Nick Rodriguez — SonoraRaidersBaseball.com

La Habra Sonora junior varsity pitcher Owen Start and coach Nick Rodriguez — SonoraRaidersBaseball.com

Scheduled to be a key contributor to the Sonora baseball program, Start is a promising pitcher who played for the Raiders' freshman/sophomore team during his first high school season and earned a promotion to the junior varsity squad for his sophomore season. All-in-all, he was progressing right on schedule.

Then came a February practice, where Start was hit in the head by a foul ball before taking his turn on the mound. According to the Los Angeles Times, ice was put on the spot where the ball struck Start's skull, but it was still determined that he should head to the hospital for a CT scan as a purely precautionary measure.

It's a good thing he did. While scanning for any structural damage to the teenager's skull, doctors discovered a brain tumor. The sophomore underwent surgery for the tumor shortly thereafter, and further testing determined that the growth was benign, making it likely that the pitcher will make a complete recovery.

"Everyone was saying, "Good thing you got hit by a foul ball,'" Sonora varsity baseball coach Pat Tellers told the Times.

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La Habra Sonora junior varsity pitcher Owen Start — Facebook

La Habra Sonora junior varsity pitcher Owen Start — Facebook

The road since that surgery hasn't been easy for Start, who has returned home roughly a month ago and has continued to recuperate on a gradual basis. According to the Sonora baseball Facebook page, that recovery took a troubling turn earlier in March when doctors discovered fluid build up in his brain.

The teen was given a dose of medication to try and overcome the setback, though further surgery to relieve any fluid and swelling remains a possibility.

Despite those concerns, it's hard to argue that Start isn't in a better place now than he was before. And to think, if he hadn't been hit by a foul ball it's likely that the sophomore still would be going about his daily routine with a full-blown brain tumor.

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