On the diamond, under the lights, the Dallas Baptist University Patriots baseball program is embracing every single moment this season.
“Every single game, every single practice, everything we do around here that involves baseball, it gives me a new appreciation for the game,” DBU infielder Jackson Glenn said. “You hear the saying, 'You don’t really know what you have until you lose it.' That’s the way I was. When I lost it, I didn’t know what I had.”
What the Patriots lost was the 2020 season, canceled after playing just 16 games -- a memory they say they will never forget.
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“To go within a couple of hour period from, 'We’re playing' to, 'Our season is done,' and for some of the seniors, not knowing what was going to happen, they thought their career was over,” Dallas Baptist University head baseball coach Dan Heefner said. “A very surreal moment and one of those times as a coach you don’t know what to say because we didn’t have answers for them.”
The NCAA answer eventually came back that seniors would have the option to return in 2021, giving some Patriots players one more chance to play the game they love for the program they love.
“When I got the news that there was a chance to come back, when I talked to coaches and talked to teammates, it was a pretty resounding I will be here,” Glenn said.
“Last year, the draft was reduced to five rounds from 40 rounds, so we’ve got guys back that normally are gone and are on to pro ball,” Heefner said. “So we probably have nine to 10 players on our team this year that normally are not here.”
And the return of those extra seniors, some in their sixth season of college baseball, should only help a DBU program that has developed a tradition of excellence under Heefner, having won 40 or more games in eight of the last nine seasons.
“Those guys that are already within the program, they keep getting better and better and then filling those shoes,” Heefner said. “That’s the number one thing to being consistent. You recruit great players, develop within, and that leads to consistency from a year to year basis.”
Consistent success from year to year, hoping to continue that trend after the most unusual year ever, embracing every single moment on the diamond, under the lights, getting to be Patriots one final time.
“As Patriots, we always say, winners find a way,” Glenn said. “I think that it really as made us into better baseball players, but also better teammates and better people as well.”