By MADISON BLEVINS (@Madison4Blevins)
Vanderbilt Baseball credits the unity they built off the field through a difficult time as the reason they found success on the field again.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt Baseball clinched its second national title in six seasons on Wednesday in Omaha after a 2-1 series win over Michigan. The Vandy Boys bounced back from losing the first game out of a three-game series at TD Ameritrade Park.
However, for Vanderbilt, that’s not the story of this year’s College World Series Finals; in fact, to many, baseball has not been the story on Vanderbilt’s campus since Freshman Pitcher Donny Everett suddenly passed away on June 2, 2016.
“The scar of Donny Everett is really deep and it will never heal.” Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin says after the series win. “The fact that the family could enjoy this situation with us, it’s some healing. They have been very close to our program, and these kids and our staff and if there’s any positive on the loss of Donny, it’s that we gained his family and all their support.”
Everett was an Ace pitcher for Vanderbilt and was considered one of the top prospects in the 2015 Major League Baseball draft. Everett drowned during his freshman season at Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt had not been to Omaha since 2015; Donny Everett’s senior year of high school.
“I am absolutely thrilled for the guys and what this stands for in our organization.” Former Vanderbilt pitcher Matt Ruppenthal and 2017 Houston Astros draft pick says. “It’s so much bigger than a game or a title. This is for Donny. This is special. Vanderbilt Baseball is special.”
Right after the final out was called in Omaha, some Vanderbilt baseball players paused their celebrations and scanned the field to find Donny’s parents, Teddy and Susan.
The celebration or trophy would not be complete without the presence of their former teammate’s family.
“It felt like a part of Donny was with us while we were celebrating.” Corbin said. “To look over and see Teddy and Susan, and everything they have been for this program… it was special.”
Although nothing will ever bring their son back, the recognition from their son’s teammates made the feeling of grief easier for them.
“We did it for Donny.”