Billy Phillips threw out the first pitch against Salesianum last Thursday at Frawley Stadium.
But the senior doesn’t want his next pitch to be ceremonial. He wants it to count, and he’s getting closer to that goal.
Phillips, a two-time All-State pitcher for St. Mark’s, was diagnosed with leukemia on March 10. After a 35-day stay at Christiana Hospital, where he underwent chemotherapy, the left-hander is improving and may be able to return to the mound this season.
“I’ve thrown every other day since I got out of the hospital [in April],” Phillips said. “I started off real slow, but I do long toss now and I do a lot of throwing with my brother [Matty], almost every day.”
Phillips set the Sallies game as a target for his return, but a blood test didn’t show the numbers his doctors wanted to see. His mother, Michelle, told him the time wasn’t right yet.
“I felt good enough,” Phillips said. “I had my glove. I actually had my uniform on. I was ready, but you can’t overrule Mom.”
Phillips still has a catheter in his chest that must be removed before he can pitch in a game. But he truly believes his time is coming soon.
“I feel strong,” Phillips said. “Not back to normal, but stronger every day. I’ve been lifting, and when my blood counts rise back up I go to the gym and do workouts.”
His friends have been doing some heavy lifting, too. Before he threw out the first pitch against Sallies, Dillon Holdren – a 2014 St. Mark’s graduate and former baseball teammate – presented Phillips with a check for $5,150 raised from the sale of special T-shirts. And a fundraising effort started by Phillips’ girlfriend, Kelly Kaczmarczyk, to help with medical costs (www.gofundme.com/billyphillips) has reached more than $79,000.
Imagine Ray “Buck” Jones and the Selby twins on the same high school football team.
It almost happened.
The Hodgson quarterback and St. Georges running backs are cousins, and they played together in youth football leagues and considered playing together in high school. Ultimately, Jones chose the Silver Eagles and the Selbys went with the Hawks.
The Selbys went to Hodgson to watch Jones sign with the University of Delaware in February. Jones returned the favor and went to St. Georges last Friday to watch the twins – Taronn and Keyjuan – sign with Delaware State.
Jones was asked what would have happened if he played on the same high school team with his cousins.
“Honestly, I think it would have been four state championships,” he said.
Hawks coach J.D. Maull didn’t disagree. Especially if Jones had joined the Selbys on his team.
“We would have been really, really good, and I would have less gray hair having Buck with us,” Maull said with a laugh. “Hodgson and us, we’re rivals. But to see Buck at their signing and the Selbys at his signing, that’s sportsmanship. That’s what high school football is all about.”
Jones did win two DIAA Division II state championships, and the Silver Eagles had to beat St. Georges both times. Hodgson topped the Hawks in the 2013 championship game and the 2014 semifinals.
“It was fun,” Jones said. “We were always going at it. There was always trash talk between us.”
Rounding it up
•Milford and Delmar will meet for a third time to determine the Henlopen South boys lacrosse title, with the playoff game to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cape Henlopen. It should be close, as Milford edged Delmar 6-5 in overtime on April 15, and the Wildcats nipped the Buccaneers 8-7 on May 6. The winner of Wednesday’s game will meet Northern Division champion Cape Henlopen for the overall Henlopen title at 7 p.m. Friday at Milford.
•Four Salesianum seniors have decided to continue to play football at the next level – OL Nick Szep (U.S. Coast Guard Academy), OL Noah Williams (Salisbury), K-P Sean Smith (Dayton) and TE-LB John Lazear (Lawrenceville School).
•Caesar Rodney’s Jeannette Bendolph has signed a letter of intent to run track at the University of Delaware. Bendolph has the state’s fastest time (2:16.99) in the 800 meters this spring.
•Brandywine catcher Chris Mako has signed to play baseball at Delaware State.
•Amber Lust, who has thrived in the sprints and hurdles at Polytech, has signed with Wofford College. Lust owns the state’s fastest time in the 100-meter hurdles (14.67) this spring.
•Archmere’s Gillian Sweeny scored her 75th career goal in a victory over St. Thomas More on May 5. She went on to add four goals and two assists in a win over Delmarva Christian on Saturday, and a goal and an assist in a victory over A.I. du Pont on Monday. The senior will graduate with school records for goals in a single game, season and career.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.