Instead of hitting home runs, the Griffon baseball team was forced to run home due to a tragedy at Alabama-Huntsville.
What started as an exciting trip to Decatur, Alabama for the baseball team’s first tournament of the season, ended in disappointment as the weekend games were cancelled due to a shooting that occurred on Alabama-Huntsville’s campus on Feb. 12.
Three colleagues of the Alabama-Huntsville professor being charged with murder were killed that day, but luckily the Western baseball team wasn’t in the area at the time of the shooting.
The team had traveled close to the whole 13 hours by bus when the Alabama-Huntsville coach called Western head coach Buzz Verduzco to notify him of the shooting that had occurred just 30 minutes prior.
At that time, the games being held February 14-15 were still on. So what the Griffons thought would be baseball games turned into a waiting game.
A second call around 9 p.m. let coach Verduzco know that the games would be cancelled. This left almost no time for the Griffons to find a replacement team to play over the weekend.
“We were disappointed because that happened to them, but we were also a little disappointed because it was later in the day and harder to find another team to play,” Verduzco said.
The lack of competition was exasperating for the Griffons as they had traveled 13 hours in hopes to play some ball, but instead got stuck with an overnight stay at a hotel, a two-hour practice the next day, then another 13-hour trip back to St. Joe.
Senior outfielder Trevor Hannum was nothing less than disappointed with the fact that the games were cancelled.
“We were almost frustrated because we got down there then couldn’t do anything,” Hannum said.
Due to the first tournament being cancelled, that means more practices available before the next tournament comes around. Junior pitcher Jon Bond knows it couldn’t hurt to get more practice, but playing in these early tournaments is important for team growth.
“We want to play as many games as possible before conference starts,” Bond said.
Believe it or not, the news about the shooting wasn’t the only obstacle the Griffons had to overcome. After getting on the road again to finish the trip to Decatur, the team heard a loud noise under the bus. So immediately it was assumed that there was a flat tire.
The bus pulled over to the side to find that a ferret cage had fallen off of a truck ahead of them. The woman on the side of the road holding the ferrets assured the Griffons that the animals were okay.
In coach Verduzco’s 11 years at Western, there aren’t many stories that could top this one, even a trip to Truman State with no baseball bats.
“Nothing like Huntsville,” Verduzco said.