Batchelor survives tragedy, stars for Jones Senior
Jones Senior’s Tanner Batchelor had a strong year on the field, batting .456 with 39 RBIs as the Trojans made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
TRENTON — For Tanner Batchelor, Saturday meant quite a bit.
Jones Senior held its graduation Saturday after what has been a tough year for the school and community. Hurricane Florence devastated the county last September and took out a pair of schools — Trenton Elementary and Jones Middle — as members in the community lost homes and possessions throughout, Batchelor’s family among them.
“We lost our house completely due to 4 feet of water and had to be evacuated by boat,” Kim Batchelor, Tanner’s mother said.
Kim Batchelor nearly lost something even more important during the storm on Sept. 15 — her son.
“We made it to my parents’ house, and Tanner and his dad were going to Pollocksville to check on his mom,” she said. “Tanner went to his truck and we kept waiting for him to come back — I went to look out of the window and there was a tree between us and where he was laying. He had passed out in a mud hole and was blue when we found him, with water and dirt coming out of his mouth. My husband started CPR and EMS was able to get him.
“We were lucky to get him out of Jones County because they closed the bridge right after.”
Tanner Batchelor said he didn’t know what occurred that night.
“I’m not really sure what happened,” Batchelor said. “I remember waking up in the hospital and doctors were telling me what happened — they said I hit my head and my parents found me laying in some water.”
Batchelor spent eight days in ICU, and while the initial reports were grim, optimism reigned in the coming days as he was transported from New Bern to Greenville.
“Doctors didn’t give him much hope when we left from New Bern,” Kim Batchelor said. “They told us in New Bern and with the first CAT scan in Greenville that he had brain swelling. On Monday, they rechecked him and he didn’t have any.
“He was on a ventilator from Saturday through Tuesday and Wednesday, they started weaning him off. His teammate, Jay King, came into the room shortly after they had taken him off of sedation medicine and talked to him, and he kept getting better.”
When Batchelor left the hospital, he recovered at his grandparents’ house — due to the loss of their own home, the family moved there. Class wasn’t back in session until mid-October, so Batchelor didn’t miss any days, although it took him time to fully recover.
“It took about a month to finally catch my wind,” Batchelor said, due to the amount of fluid in his lungs. “Breathing held me up so long.”
Batchelor still loved the game of baseball and had intentions of playing this season for the Trojans. After being cleared with a chest X-ray toward the end of February showing no damage, he went on a tear.
Batchelor came to Jones Senior this season after playing at Bethel Christian Academy, helping the team win a state championship in 2017. This year for another set of Trojans, Batchelor batted .456 with a team-high nine doubles and 39 RBIs, also finishing second in triples (three) and stolen bases (12).
Batchelor’s play assisted Jones Senior in making the postseason for the first time since 2016.
“Sometimes when you bring someone in you’re worried about chemistry, but that wasn’t the case here,” Jones Senior coach Jason Barker said. “He grew up with a lot of the guys here and he was a high-character kid. He was someone who led by example more, but would do anything you asked. I wish I could’ve had him all four years — he was great to coach and it’s amazing what he was able to do this season.”
Kim Batchelor said it was amazing to see her son make a big impact this season.
“We are blessed by God to see him play this year,” she said. “We were glad to see him on the field and didn’t know he’d have this type of season because of the lung damage, but watching what he did was phenomenal.”
For Tanner Batchelor, he said the process to get back to the field helped immensely.
“Loving the game of baseball really helped me get back into the swing of things, working out and getting my strength up,” he said.
There are also plans for a new place of residence for the Batchelor’s.
“We were able to sell our house as is and are clearing a lot to build another one on higher ground here in Trenton,” she said.