South Bend (WNDU) -- The South Bend East Side 10U All Stars are headed to Vincennes, IN for the Cal Ripken World Series, after last week's victory in the Ohio Valley Regional.
The MVP of that tournament was the team's star pitcher Pierson Sult, who is winning not only on the diamond, but also in the fight against cancer.
In January 2017, Pierson complained of pain in his left arm. Doctors originally said it was just growing pain, but unfortunately, it was much more serious. That March, Pierson was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma.
"The worst things," Trina Sult, Pierson's mom, said about what she was thinking. "The worst things went through our minds. But he always kept a positive attitude and he actually got us through it."
"Words can't explain it," Ms. Sult added. "It was very hard, but you had to be strong at the same time for them, and for our kids at home."
He eventually had to have the humerus bone in his left arm removed and replaced.
His parents worried for his life; Pierson worried he might never get to play baseball again.
"Well, it was pretty hard," Pierson said. "But I managed to get through it and now I'm going to the World Series."
"We weren’t allowed to cry in front of him," T.J. Sult, Pierson's dad, said. "He would not allow that, and I’m crying now more post cancer than I did during. During you just react, do what needs to be done, now you have time to sit back and reflect, how far he’s come from a year ago is amazing."
"We didn’t think he’d be able to play baseball ever again," Mr. Sult added. "And he’s actually thriving – he’s MVP."
Last July they received the good news - Pierson was cancer free.
He finished chemotherapy this past December, and now is leading his team to the Cal Ripken World Series.
"I just look back at it, I was like psh, easy," Pierson said.
"We’re not the holiest, most religious people, but God chose him for a reason," T.J. Sult said. "He proved that you could go through this and come out the other side and be out here playing a baseball game."
"This year when he went out and played baseball for the first time, it was emotional," Mr. Sult added. "As it is today. This World Series is icing on the cake. It's a great group of people, and East Side is a proud place and we're proud to send these 10-U to compete."
Healthy again, Pierson's thoughts are now solely on the diamond - right where they belong.
"I'm just staying focused on the game, and not worrying about anything else in the world but just playing the game," Pierson said.
Pierson's fight is far from over. Despite his tests showing over 99.9% of the cancer is gone, doctors don't describe childhood cancer as being in remission.
Ewing Sarcoma can come back, and is most likely to do so within the first two years of treatment.
Pierson has to continue to go down to the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital in Indianapolis every three months for the next 1.5 years, and then, if the cancer hasn't returned, every six months for at least the next five years.
The Sult family though isn't thinking about that. After all, Pierson has a much more pressing timeline - starting tomorrow, he and his teammates will try to bring the Cal Ripken World Series championship home to South Bend.
The Cal Ripken World Series runs August 2nd-11th in Vincennes.