In 2014, West Orange alum and FSU pitcher Andrew Karp was in a car crash that put his baseball career in serious jeopardy. On Saturday, Andrew and the Seminoles will begin play in the 2017 College World Series against Louisiana State University.
Pitching in a College World Series was a distant thought for Andrew Karp as he lay in a hospital bed in Gainesville with a fractured left femur.
It was November 25, 2014.
While traveling home from Florida State University for Thanksgiving break with his girlfriend, Lexyy Schiller, the West Orange alum and Seminoles pitcher was in a brutal accident on Interstate 10. The impact ejected Schiller from the car, causing two neck fractures, and left Andrew trapped inside a totaled truck for 45 minutes. First-responders initially figured there would be no survivors based on the wreckage, but both survived.
In the days that followed, the question was less about whether Karp would ever take the mound in the pinnacle event of the college baseball season and more about whether he had a future in college baseball at all.
“You just never really know what’s going to happen,” Andrew said. “I was in a lot of pain, and I knew that I was going to require major surgery.”
A little more than two-and-one-half years later, though, it was Karp who was on the mound for the Seminoles June 11 in the bottom of the ninth in Game Two of the Tallahassee Super Regional against Sam Houston State.
And it was Karp who struck out the final two batters to close the game — and the Super Regional — officially punching the ticket for Florida State’s first trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, since 2012.
“It’s something you dream about all your life,” Karp said. “To be out there in the last inning of that game, to be on (the winning) side and to be going to Omaha — it’s crazy.”
And in a twist of fate befitting Father’s Day weekend, the Seminoles will open their appearance in the 2017 College World Series against Louisiana State University — the program for which Karp’s father, Dan Karp, played catcher in the early 1980s — and the school where Dan Karp met the future Leslie Karp.
“It’s going to be so exciting,” Dan Karp said. “Leslie and I are proud LSU alumni, but I can guarantee you one thing — on Saturday, we will be cheering loudly and proudly for the Florida State Seminoles.”
“Leslie and I are proud LSU alumni, but I can guarantee you one thing — on Saturday, we will be cheering loudly and proudly for the Florida State Seminoles.”
— Dan Karp
The road back for Andrew Karp was a daunting one, but he had an example set by his younger sister, Katie.
Katie Karp battled and beat bone cancer and, in the process, 12 inches of her thigh bone were removed and replaced with a titanium rod. She had to learn to walk again, but Katie Karp was declared cancer-free in 2011.
“To see her do that, with the faith that she was able to maintain, gave him tremendous confidence when he faced his own battles,” Dan Karp said.
Reassured by the coaching staff at FSU, Andrew Karp was relentless in his rehabilitation. He received a redshirt for the 2015 season, and by the 2016 season, he was ready to go. More than a year’s worth of hard work to get back to form came to a head Feb. 21, 2016, when Andrew Karp took the mound at Dick Howser Stadium as a Seminole for the first time.
“I felt like I hadn’t pitched in forever — my heart was beating super fast,” he said. “I was just so thankful and feeling how blessed I truly am.”
That one-inning outing was the first of nine total appearances in 2016. Andrew Karp compiled one win and one loss and an ERA of 6.91. So far in 2017, he has made 17 appearances spanning 61 innings of work. He has recorded 63 strikeouts and he has driven his ERA down to 4.87.
Family members from Indiana and Texas will be joining Dan, Leslie and Katie Karp, as well as Lexyy Schiller, in the stands in Omaha. Whatever the outcome for the Seminoles and for Andrew, it will be joyous way to spend Fathers’ Day Weekend.
“It’s really been sort of a full-circle, closed loop to get where he is,” Dan Karp said. “It’s a doggone dream come true. I never had an opportunity (to play in the College World Series) when I was at LSU, and to see him do it — I just have to pinch myself.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].