Birmingham-Southern baseball team vies for an NCAA title as the school prepares to close

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Birmingham-Southern College baseball team.

Birmingham-Southern College

When Coach Jan Weisberg called the Birmingham-Southern College baseball team to an impromptu meeting on March 27, players were confused. They gathered together in the locker room and found out the news – BSC would close on May 31.

“We were shocked. It was the last thing we thought we were going to hear that day,” said senior pitcher on the team, Hansen McCown.

The school has been plagued by financial troubles for some time. Earlier this year, a bill that could’ve given BSC a $30 million loan died in the Alabama legislature.

After receiving the news, the team wiped their tears and headed to the field for practice.

“Those first couple of days were rough,” McCown said.

The Panthers found themselves in a mid-season losing streak. Weisberg sat the team down and said winning is just a byproduct. Now, their main goal was perseverance. He told them there’ll always be three constants in your lives: pain, uncertainty and the will to push through those things.

“You pass it on to the guy that’s played your position, that’s worn your number, that sat in your locker. Well, there’s nobody to pass it on to now and we’re not going to limp to the finish. We’re going to finish strong,” Weisberg said.

To coach Weisberg, finishing strong doesn’t mean winning a national championship.

“Just go out and honor everyone that came before you,” he said.

A movie-like comeback

Freshman pitcher Jacob Fields (Birmingham-Southern College)

Pitcher Jacob Fields said despite their lull, the team never gave up.

“Every single dude on this team came out here every day to practice, doing what we need to be doing, to put us in a position to win,” he said.

Fields is a freshman who has begun the process of looking for a new school. But right now, his sole priority is this team – he has even paused conversations with college recruiters.

“I have told all of them that I want to really focus on the team right now and we can wait to have more conversations after we’re done,” Fields said.

His devotion to this team mirrors that of the other players. The Panthers turned their game around and started winning again. 

“The guys finished 14 and two and put us back into contention for an at-large bid,” Weisberg said.

But they weren’t a lock to get into the post-season tournament. Weisberg said this was the first time the team watched, wondering “will our name be up there?” 

When they did, the elation on their faces was worth the journey it took to get there, he said.

“The emotions that they had been processing for so long had been negative – uncertainty, pain, worry, anxiety. And just to see that replaced with elation was awesome,” Weisberg said.

But making it into the college baseball super regional, one of the top 16 teams in NCAA Division III, put the team in a precarious position – with BSC’s closing, if they make it into the championships, they’ll be playing for a school that no longer exists.

However, players say that hasn’t hindered them. Outfielder Ian Hancock said it’s actually given them more motivation.

“Even through this adversity, you come and you do everything the right way. Just finish strong and make the alumni and everyone else at the college proud of what we’ve put out there,” he said.

The team has seen an outpouring of support on social media.

@frankhrelja Birmingham-Southern is the best story in baseball 🤯 #fyp #baseball #collegeworldseries #mlb #homerun #ncaa ♬ Suspense, horror, piano and music box – takaya

People are rooting for the team, hoping they send BSC off on a high note.

The Panthers will be playing the number two team in Division III, Denison University, on May 24. 

 

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