The University of Hawaii baseball team will return to Les Murakami Stadium on Thursday night opening a four game series against the Oregon Ducks.
This past weekend, UH dropped two of three games at second-ranked Vanderbilt, losing a two-run lead in the 11th inning against the defending national champions on Sunday.
The very next day, the Rainbows left for the islands just hours before the city of Nashville was hit by a tornado that claimed the lives of more than 20 people, leaving the team with a valuable reminder to keep things in perspective.
“We leave there and all we’re thinking about is baseball and the games and at bats or pitches, certain stuff like that. Then you hear the news about the tornadoes and it really puts stuff into perspective,” junior first baseman Alex Baeza told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello on Wednesday. “It’s really just a game. Like, Matt Wong’s parents were still out there yesterday and we hear about it and it’s the first thing that everyone is worried about is your family safe? Other people that were there, I mean it was only a mile from where we were staying.”
“That was crazy. I heard that a tornado happened right when I woke up and then I remembered that my family is still there, and they leave today, so right when that happened I texted all of them just to make sure that they were okay, and thank god they’re okay,” said Wong.
Upon leaving Tennessee and hearing of the tragedy, head coach Mike Trapasso reached out the Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin who reported that his family and team were safe.
“We’re about trying to keep things in perspective and that’s what our job should be. We talk to our guys a lot about hey, it’s just baseball. We’re good at it, but let’s keep things in perspective and that’s where you find the joy in knowing how blessed you are to be playing this game and when you see something like that in Nashville, the carnage of just five minutes, it’s again something that puts everything into perspective for you,” said Trapasso.
The message of finding the love and joy for baseball while keeping the sport in perspective is a message that Trapasso has preached long before the tragedy, and is confident that the mindset will pay dividends for his team when they return to the field this week.
“This is a strong group, a mentally strong group. They learned some valuable lessons on the road and they’re ready to get back to it here,” added Trapasso.
The Rainbow Warriors and Ducks will play four games at Murakami Stadium starting on Thursday. For a complete series preview, click here.