Benton pitcher Cale Latimer overcomes near amputation to save baseball games

Jimmy Watson
Shreveport Times

Benton’s Cale Latimer went from nearly becoming an amputee to throwing the baseball in the 90 mph range over the past six months thanks to a dedicated troupe of physical therapists and some grueling work on his part.

It started for the Tigers junior Oct. 4 when he was playing on the punt team in a junior varsity game against Captain Shreve. Latimer ran down the field to tackle the returner when someone dove in front of him, hitting his leg from the side.

“I fell down and didn’t know anything was wrong until I looked down and the lower half of my leg was bent in a V-shape,” Latimer said. 

Bossier EMS transported him to Willis Knighton Bossier, where he was diagnosed with a displaced tibia-fibula fracture in his right leg. He spent the night watching "Squid Game" on Netflix and dealing with the severe pain. 

“During surgery, I lost blood flow to my right leg below my knee, and everyone was worried I could possibly lose part of my leg,” Latimer said. “The doctors did emergency fasciotomies on either side of my leg from my knee to my ankle.”

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Benton's Cale Latimer during their game against Parkway Saturday afternoon, April 2, 2022, at Benton High School.

The fractures were stabilized and Latimer was transported to Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport to see a vascular specialist. Blood flow to the leg was restored and a rod was placed in Latimer’s tibia. He had a second surgery and spent nine days in the two hospitals before heading home to begin rehab.

He was told he’d be able to resume baseball activities in seven to 10 months, but he was back on the mound in less than six months.

Latimer’s father is a physical therapist who helped with the lack of mobility in his knee and ankle.

“At first, I couldn’t independently stand, go to the bathroom, bathe, get into bed, sit down, or any other activity, and I had to use a walker,” Latimer said.

He did outpatient therapy at WK, worked with an athletic trainer at Benton and began doing sitting baseball activities at his home about a month after leaving the hospital. 

“The therapists pushed me hard, and I also pushed myself hard,” Latimer said. “As I got stronger, I was able to add bands, weights, medicine ball, throwing, agility and strength training to my rehab. One of my pitching coaches told me that to hit 90 mph again, I would have to be able to do a 36-inch box jump, which I did about a month ago.” 

“Cale’s first game back on the mound was March 7 against Texas High and he saved the game,” Benton coach Dane Peavy said. “He threw the last three innings, had six strikeouts and got the win. We won 3-2 in eight innings. He also came in to save the 4-3 win against Haughton last week by striking out the side.”

Latimer still isn’t at 100% and won’t be for a while.

“But it felt awesome to finally be back and the support from my coaches and my teammates, and their families have been great,” he said. “I still feel a little weak, and my endurance is not back yet. Most of my lower leg is also still numb. However, I have made a lot of progress in six months.”

Primarily being used as a designated hitter and closer, Latimer has made a decision about a possible return to football.

“No, I’m sticking to baseball,” he said. 

Jimmy Watson covers Shreveport-Bossier area sports. Email him at jwatson@shreveporttimes.com and follow him on Twitter @JimmyWatson6