It was a rainy July day in Lake Norman, N.C. The Lake Norman Copperheads were playing that night on a wet field. Dan Neff slapped a single in his second at bat and decided he would steal on the next pitch. He took a vault lead with all his weight coming down on his left leg and crumbled, immediately knowing something was wrong with his knee.
It all changed for Neff on that Summer night in 2013.
“Right away… Boom… my life just changed. My whole life,” Neff said when he found out four days after that game in Lake Norman that he had torn his ACL. He was suited up and ready to play that night when it started raining. He got a call during the rain delay from the doctor telling him the sad news.
Neff ended up being able to play at Millersville the following year but he admits it was a journey that he is grateful for.
It all started the summer of 2011 when Neff played on a showcase team. “That summer was like crack cocaine. I knew I wanted to play baseball in college,” Neff admits about traveling around playing baseball that summer.
He was a standout at Lampeter-Strasburg High School as a roaming centerfielder. He got looked at by a handful of Division I schools. He ultimately ended up committing to Coastal Carolina for 2013. He red-shirted his freshman year at Coastal due to lack of playing time.
He then went on to play summer ball where he tore his ACL. “Summer ball is over, I have to leave Coastal. Right away it all came to me,” Neff added when he found out about his torn ACL. So he ended up never playing in a game there.
He ended up wasting no time. By the time the 2013 fall semester came around he was granted release and ended up coming close to home. He transferred to Millersville.
He underwent eight months in a leg cast and rehab. He got his first chance to play on March 15, twelve games into the season. “ I was nervous because I had not seen pitching in a while,” Neff said about his first game.
He ended the 2014 season batting .233 with 16 RBI and one homer in 39 games played. He looks to build upon that this season.
His ultimate goal is to get drafted in the next two years but he has other goals before that can happen. He wants to win a ring meaning he wants to win the conference and eventually win the region in the tournament. While Neff does have individual goals he values the team’s goals much higher. “Winning as a team is just better,” Neff says about his goals. He does have individual goals which include being an all conference outfielder and hopefully being an All-American.
Neff is seen as a table setter for the Maruaders which is what he is doing exactly this year. In 36 games played he is batting .307 with 15 RBI and scored 39 runs. He also gets it done on the base paths swiping 11 bases.
It does not seem like Neff has missed a beat due to his injury. “Yes [it changed my life] in a good way. I like playing baseball here. I was terrified at first, but I am grateful for where I am at now. It all turned out for the better. Thank God for that,” Neff said.
The Marauders have 12 games remaining in their season. The next game is at home against Kutztown University.