By Zora Thomas
Xavier University of Louisiana’s baseball team kicked off their home opening game at Wesley Barrow Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 5. The season launched with a double-header against Tougaloo College, after being rained out at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala. This was to be their first match of the season. Norman Barnum, a Xavier alumnus from the class of 1984 and the president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance made the ceremonial first pitch.
“Yeah, I feel fabulous. I’m a Xavier grad’ of 1984. We did not have a team, a baseball team when I was on campus,” Barnum said. “So to be here and share an experience with these young men made my day.”
Barnum is working with two Xavier student interns and is partnering up with other HBCUs in New Orleans: Dillard University and Southern University of New Orleans (SUNO) for the HBCU Student Prosperity Project.
“We try to make sure that we help juniors and seniors start accumulating wealth,” said Barnum, who started the HBCU prosperity project. “It gives me an opportunity to share my business experience back to my alma mater, and show the day to day good habits I create in professionalism and success,” he added.
Barnum immersed himself in the spirit of Xavier wearing a yellow baseball uniform sporting the number 22 as he stood on the mound preparing himself for the pitch. Coach Adrian Holloway, the baseball team’s third-year head coach said it was special to have a Xavier alumnus like Barnum come back.
“And it was really cool. I mean, he really got into it. He had his uniform on, he was really excited. And that’s the thing I love about Xavier alumni. They’re best in the world,” Holloway said. “They support us and everything we do and without them you know, I don’t know where we’d be,” he said.
Xavier had 4 home runs, two of which were made by junior out-fielder, D’Aires Davis, one for senior in-fielder and pitcher Deionte Norris, and the freshman in-fielder, Lawrence Steed, which led to a 15-5 victory over Tougaloo. Due to the score difference a run-play was called in the 6th-inning to end the first game. The second game was just as dominant with a score of 11-1 in a back to back win resulting by a run-play rule.
“Just our motto, focus and finish. Just focusing in throughout the whole game and finish at the end, keeping our foot on the gas,” Holloway said. “You know, and play a complete game, just playing it to the last out. And I think we accomplished that today,’ he added.
“We’re not really a home-run team. But we just played really good today and you know, when you’re playing like that we’re gonna be a tough team to beat,” Holloway said.
Though Xavier may not have been a home-run team they might be developing into one this season. The following game they had on Monday, Feb. 6, Xavier faced off against Tougaloo for the third time and came out victorious after trailing in the 9th-inning until the sophomore catcher Cam Finn hit a three-run homer to bring Xavier the win.
“Man, the pitcher they had in was really killing us all game, like he literally went all nine innings. And right before my bat, we had runners on first and second. And they mound visited and I guess they were about to take them out,” Finn said. “But he told his coach that he wanted to stay in and that’s what I wanted. Got the pitch that I could handle, and you know, three-run bomb to win the game.”