Baseball: St. Viator's Mahoney hoping to finish career in style

  • St. Viator pitcher Jack Mahoney bites his jersey while shaking hands with Libertyville after a 2018 sectional semifinal game./

      St. Viator pitcher Jack Mahoney bites his jersey while shaking hands with Libertyville after a 2018 sectional semifinal game./ John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/19/2020 6:26 AM

Going 12-for-12 was going to happen.

Jack Mahoney was going to make sure of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A broken leg wasn't going to stop him.

He's hoping that the COVID-19 pandemic won't either.

"Playing different sports is so special to me," Mahoney said. "I've wanted to play all three of mine for all four years. Not a lot of people do it."

Mahoney is a rare breed. He is a three-sport athlete for all four years of his high school career.

The St. Viator senior is a football-basketball-baseball guy and he completed his 11th sports season last week with the abrupt end of the boys basketball season, due to the growing concerns over COVID-19. Mahoney and the Lions were scheduled to compete in last Friday's sectional championship game against Notre Dame, but that and the rest of the boys basketball state tournament got canceled to do public health and safety concerns.

Now, Mahoney, who fought his way back to the basketball team in January after a broken leg ended his promising football season in October and forced months of rehab, is looking to start his 12th high school season with baseball.

St. Viator is out of school and has suspended all extracurricular activities until at least April 6, which cuts into the first few weeks of the baseball season.

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Mahoney and his teammates are hoping the spring sports season at St. Viator will go on in abbreviated fashion once COVID-19 fears subside.

"This is weird and unfair and stuff like this just doesn't happen, but I guess we have to roll with it and pray that we do get to play. I've had a roller coaster senior year and this is just another bump in the road," Mahoney said. "Hopefully, we get to play baseball again. I am just super blessed to be at place like St. Viator where they encourage kids to play multiple sports.

"I've been playing all three of my sports for pretty much my entire life and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've seen so many different situations, and played in so many different atmospheres. I think that's really helped prepare me for college."

Speaking of college, Mahoney will be playing baseball in college next year, at South Carolina.

Baseball is his main sport, although he treats football and basketball as if they are just as important.

Mahoney is a lights-out pitcher who has been on the varsity for four years. He started as a shortstop freshman year and still plays some infield, but he distinguished himself with the scouts with his pitching.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I think the best thing about my pitching is that I really keep the game moving," said Mahoney, who has had as many as 12 strikeouts in a game. "I attack the strike zone."

Mahoney certainly attacked his rehab from a broken leg in the fall, making remarkable progress to be cleared in time to make an impact on the basketball team and ultimately earn a starting spot.

He was St. Viator's quarterback last fall, with 16 touchdowns when he got hurt in the sixth game of the season against St. Patrick.

"It was a cold, rainy night and we weren't getting much going by throwing the ball because it was so slick," Mahoney said. "So we started running the ball more and I was having a good game rushing the ball and on this one play, I ran right and then I reversed field and their safety came out of nowhere and hit my legs out from under me and I was in the air kind of spinning and then I crashed down right on my leg."

Mahoney broke his left tibia.

Doctors told Mahoney he would be out for at least three months.

"I'll be honest, I tried not to let anyone see it, but there were a lot of nights at home where I was crying, feeling sorry for myself, pouting," Mahoney said. "I was like, 'Why did this happen to me? What did I do?' "

But Mahoney kept his head down and never wavered. It would have been understandable for him to bow out of basketball season, to focus on getting completely healthy for his main sport: baseball.

Not a chance. Mahoney loves basketball too much. And he loves his teammates, all of them, in every sport. And he was determined to have one last season with his basketball friends.

"We all knew he wasn't going to sit out this (basketball) season," said St. Viator senior guard Owen Hickey, who was also Mahoney's top receiver in football and is a longtime friend and teammate. "He's a grinder and there was nothing that was going to hold him back. He came back earlier than everyone expected. But actually, I kind of did expect it. I knew Jack would be back here on the court with us in March. There was no other way it would happen."

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