'Bama athletes think about home - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

'Bama athletes think about home

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Miles Coach Kenneth Hatcher Miles Coach Kenneth Hatcher

Some people who survived those storms in Alabama are in Albany this week at the SIAC Baseball Tournament. While they're playing ball or rooting for their teams, all of them said their hearts are back home.

The Stillman College baseball Tigers from Tuscaloosa had a former teammate killed in the tornadoes that flattened their town. Three members of the Miles College baseball Bears from Birmingham lost their rental homes at school, while two players' families lost their homes.

Many of the fans at today's games lived through the killer storms. Katie Watkins' fiance is one of the coaches for Stillman College's baseball team. She was in her apartment in Northport during the tornadoes.  "He had gone to be with a girl, to protect her basically. And they got it both," Watkins said.

The Stillman Tigers team is playing with heavy hearts. One of their former teammates, William Stevens, was killed in the storms.

Randall Cole of the Miles College Bears knows his rental home back in Birmingham is destroyed, but his fiance is OK.

Miles Coach Kenneth Hatcher says three players lost their college homes, and two others had their family homes destroyed.  "We talk all the time about keeping thing in the proper prospective. See like now they fully understand the importance of baseball and life..." he said.

The teams have seen the footage on TV and talked with families on the phone, but what will be waiting for them when they get back home.   "Looking at the situation when those kids get back, it's going to really hit them," Hatcher said.

Stillman's Sports Information Director Steven Lockhart was on campus during the tornadoes, and then drove to Albany.

Baseball keeps them busy for now, but most of these people from Alabama say their hearts are back home.

Steven Lockhart said Stillman College did not sustain any damage from the tornadoes, but all around the campus he said was wiped out.  "It's not the same Tuscaloosa we used to know. It's definitely a change, but we'll make it through this and be better for it," he said.

"You can't imagine what it really looks like. Pictures can't do it justice," Watkins said.

Hatcher said Miles College had some damage, but not too serious, but both campuses did not have power the last time they talked with officials there. "They are bringing in dogs and bulldozers. So that's why I am concerned when they do see the damage. The effect is really going to hit them," he said.

The teams are still waiting for school officials to decide what they'll do when they leave Albany.

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