EDWARDSVILLE — When he let the pitch go last summer, Edwardsville High School three-sport standout Drew Curtis knew immediately something went wrong.
Facing Triad High left-handed slugger and good friend Keaton Wright in a summer league baseball game against the St. Louis Pirates, the 6-foot, 5-inch Curtis just hoped for the best.
"I didn't throw a very good pitch and he stepped in the bucket and inside-outed one right off my eyebrow here, popped open my sinus cavity," Curtis said Wednesday, pointing to a spot just above his left eyebrow.
Wright's line drive caused enough damage to require extensive surgery that left a nasty scar across the front of Curtis' hairline.
The fact that he returned to play golf last fall and now is a starter for Edwardsville's state basketball tournament qualifier says a lot about Curtis' dedication and perseverance.
He also considers himself a bit lucky, too.
"I had to fix that up and I was stuck in the house amazingly for only about two weeks," Curtis said. "The sinus cavity had collapsed, it was a pretty big thing. To get hit in the head like that, I'm just happy to be able to be playing again.
"I never thought of it like this, but my parents were telling me if I had been a inch to the left or an inch to the right, I might not be talking right now. It's the hardest bone in your body apparently, so I got very, very lucky."
Luck has nothing to do with the numerous talents Curtis has been blessed with.
In an era where three-sport standouts have all but faded at most Southwestern Conference schools, Curtis is a remarkable exception.
He's been to the state golf tournament as one of the region's top golfers, is a three-year starter in basketball and will attend St. Louis University on a baseball scholarship.
An infielder and outfielder who also can pitch, Curtis also had scholarship offers from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Indiana State, but his academic prowess led him to consider SLU and Washington University before choosing the Billikens.
He hit .417 last spring with 12 doubles, six homers and 35 RBIs, earning Belleville News-Democrat first-team All-Area honors. Curtis also was 2-1 as a pitcher with a 2.94 ERA.
As a senior, Curtis has the extremely rare opportunity to become an All-Area and All-Southwestern Conference player in three different sports.
Curtis does a lot of the little things to help the Tigers in basketball -- and does them all well. He's averaging 5.8 points per game, but also leads the Tigers with 9.5 rebounds a game and ranks second in assists (5.25 per game).
He also sets screens, makes good passes and remains a solid 3-point threat (25-of-64, 39 percent).
"He makes (shots) when he's open, he doesn't shoot if he's not open," said veteran Edwardsville coach Mike Waldo, whose attention to detail is legendary. "He makes the right pass, he's an excellent defender, he's our leading rebounder and second on the team in assists. I notice what he does, they're not little things to me."
Curtis has already played his final round of high school golf and his final basketball game will be this weekend. Up ahead is his final baseball season as a Tiger.
"It's incredible," Curtis said. "I've never thought about it like that. I played football in seventh grade too and I wasn't very good at it, so I gave that one up. It's definitely going to be a bittersweet weekend for me.
"But it's going to be nice to be out there and bring home the first (state) basketball trophy that Coach Waldo's ever had. Regardless of the place, bringing home a trophy is going to be sweet."
Curtis may be overlooked at times when discussing Edwardsville's top players, but that never happens in the coach's office.
"Curtis is a very, very valuable player," Waldo said. "I think people that know the game of basketball understand that Curtis is really a good player. In basketball they don't have a plus-minus chart like they do in hockey, but if you did Curtis would be very, very valuable.
"He really does a lot of good things on the floor."