Louisville teen turns stroke into killer pitch

WEDNESDAY AT 11: Teen turns stroke into killer pitch

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) -  On the field, 16-year-old Ben Otten is a star, his team's closing pitcher.

He can throw strikes at 82 mph.

"He comes in and works harder than anybody," his baseball coach, Scott Dibble, told WAVE 3 News. "I mean he comes in and just kills himself to get stronger and get better."

But before Ben could practice his pitch, he had to practice opening his hand.

"I could not get my hand to open to catch the ball or throw the ball, and so a lot of the kids would make fun of me and all that," he said.

After birth, Ben had a stroke, leaving him with cerebral palsy. At age two, he couldn't sit up, walk or even talk.

The left side of his body was paralyzed. He couldn't speak full sentences until age 10.

But countless therapy sessions, effort at home and sports helped create new neural pathways. Ben learned how to swim and play soccer. In some of his photos, his left hand -- his pitching hand -- was still visibly clenched.

"He's taught me that to, that just, no matter what your challenges are never quit, always fight," Dibble said.

Ben gets up one hour early just to get his muscles going, and at times his left arm hurts. He still works through a long list of challenges.

"I have dyslexia, ADD, and all of that and I have low tone," he said. Low tone is described as a symptom of cerebral palsy, which makes it difficult to control the movements of the body. 

"I can't stand up for more than three hours at a time because then I have to sit down," he said.

Ben doesn't let any of that stop him, even off the mound. He also volunteers every chance he gets.

"I want to help everyone that I can because so many people have helped me along the way," he said.

Ben wants to take baseball as far as he can while inspiring others with cerebral palsy.

"You just have to have that mentality that you can't give up," he said. "When you tell your brain to do anything, it can do it."

Ben recently received the Congressional Award from the White House for his volunteer work. He said he doesn't think he'll be able to attend the award ceremony at the Capitol because of cost. Expenses to the ceremony are not covered.

The ceremony will be held in June. The RSVP deadline is May 1.

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