Luke Rothe

Luke Rothe

MANKATO, Minn. — A baseball player from a small college in Minnesota continues to recover in a Mankato hospital after sustaining a severe skull fracture in a game last week.

Luke Rothe, a three-sport athlete from Watertown, Wisconsin, was injured Thursday while diving for a ball in a game at Bethany Lutheran College, according to the Mankato (Minn.) Free Press.

The injury occurred in the first inning of the game, when Rothe, the centerfielder, collided with the team's right fielder, head coach Randy Cox said.

The collision apparently knocked Rothe unconscious, but he was regaining consciousness when the paramedics and ambulance arrived, Cox said.

Rothe underwent brain surgery the day of the injury.

Doctors expect him to make a full recovery, his mom, Debbie Dietrich, wrote on Facebook.

"Luke's challenges are a result of brain impact damage and swelling," she wrote, noting that his speech, the right side of his face and his right hand are affected considerably. "The neuro team expects full recovery but cannot predict how long that will take."

Rothe was breathing on his own Friday afternoon, though he was unable to speak, she wrote.

By Sunday he was moved from the intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato to a progressive care unit, Dietrich wrote, adding that his speech and thought processes continued to improve.

Rothe started physical, occupational and speech therapy this week and will soon move to an inpatient rehab center.

Cox visited Rothe on Saturday and some of his teammates visited Sunday. By Monday most of the team had visited.

"He’s on a good path to recovery right now," Cox said Monday.

Rothe’s injury happened less than a week after a high school baseball player in Georgia died after being struck in the head by a ball between innings of a junior varsity game between Valdosta High School and Colquitt County High School. In what Colquitt County athletic trainer Ryan Kebler described as a “freak accident,” Valdosta freshman Colton Shaw was struck by an errant throw during warmups and died the next day.

Roth, a junior majoring in elementary education and social studies, is in his first season on the Knights baseball team. He also starts at guard on the school’s basketball team and plays quarterback on the football team.

Wyatt Weimer, a co-captain on the baseball team, told the Mankato (Minn.) Free Press that the team has hung Rothe’s jersey in the dugout for each of the three games since the injury and will continue to do so.

"He felt like more than just a teammate to a lot of us," he said.

The Mankato (Minn.) Free Press contributed to this story.

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