By: KAYLEE DARNELL
IU South Bend’s baseball team’s season is quickly approaching, and for the Titans to get ready for the season, they do what most teams do. They practice, play and prepare. One thing the baseball team has recently inducted into their program that other programs do not do is their annual First Pitch Banquet.
This is the third year the baseball team has had this banquet and this year it was held at the South Bend Cub’s hitting facility. At the beginning of the banquet head coach, Doug Buysee, and assistant/recruiting coach, Zack Lazenby, passed out awards.
Awards were given out to past players, current players, and even two fans. The coaches implemented a new award this past year called “Nana and Papa DeHerrera Fan Award.” This award was given to senior player TJ DeHerrera’s grandparents for their continuous support to the baseball team for the past four years.
“Just the fact that someone notices how much my grandparents support the team and how much they support me. It is just an endless support system and I am honestly so blessed,” DeHerrera said.
“They literally were so shocked and cried, and said they felt so blessed to be not only apart of the Titan family, but have the award named after them to be passed down,” DeHerrera added.
“Those two probably have not missed more than five games combined in the last four years. They show up everywhere we travel and always are the loudest in the stands, cheering on every single player. They are the Titans baseball’s #1 fan,” Coach Lazenby said.
Once awards were passed out, next came senior speeches. Two seniors gave speeches for the audience, one being DeHerrera, and the other being senior Jordan Moore.
“My favorite part was having my parents there and giving one of the senior speeches,” Moore said. “My favorite part of my speech was talking about how the alumni and coaches made a great support system and how my parents were a big part of who I am today,” Moore added.
“Senior speeches were my favorite part because I have been through it all with those guys since day one, and it was a special moment seeing them talk about some of those times. Those speeches replicated what every other senior would have to say,” senior, Matt Miller said.
“My favorite part of the banquet was getting to hear the seniors talk about the upcoming season and getting to hear about how much baseball means to them,” freshman Cal Whitaker said.
“The part that stood out to me the most was TJ talking about how when he came here, he was a catcher and now he’s playing right field for us. It just goes to show that anything is possible in this game,” Whitaker added.
“My favorite part about listening to the senior speeches was hearing them talk about their families. None of us would have made it to the collegiate level without support from a lot of people, and to hear our seniors acknowledge the role our parents play in our passion was really nice,” freshman Logan Smith said.
“To hear them look back on their long careers and thank their parents for shaping them into who they are now put a lot of things into perspective,” Smith added.
The IU South Bend baseball team has only been a program for five years, but has already created new traditions, memories, and had tremendous growth.
“Even though we have only been a program for five years, we had a group of former players (alumni), current players, and even future players that were in attendance. Seeing the program grow like that is indescribable. That will always be my favorite part of every year’s banquet,” Lazenby said.
The baseball’s team annual banquet was a success and the Titans plan on continuing this newly formed tradition for years to come.