Baseball team moves past tornado days after storm

For many residents of city, the tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa 365 days ago was a wake-up call.

The storms were a literal wake-up call for Alabama relief pitcher Nathan Kennedy who had recently received a steroid shot in his back to treat an injury, and was asleep in his bed.

Had it not been for teammate and roommate Josh Rosecrans, Kennedy may have kept sleeping.

Rosecrans, coming back to their house at 308 17th Street near Forest Lake from practice, had to get Kennedy ready for the impending storm.

“We tried to move my mattress into my bathroom, but my bathroom had glass sliding doors and wouldn’t fit,” Kennedy said. “His bathroom was smaller on the other side of the house so we started moving my mattress out into the hall and into the kitchen.”

The two dove into the bathtub, and Rosecrans held the mattress down on top of them.

As the tornado hit their house, Kennedy remembers it taking about 10 to 15 seconds and sounding like several trains going over him,

“Debris was getting in our hair and ears, and mud was thrown on our faces,” Kennedy said.

Rosecrans and Kennedy wasted no time in getting out in their neighborhood to help their neighbors, despite having to cope with losing their entire bedroom, as Rosecrans did.

And it was not long until Rosecrans and Kennedy were thrown into the baseball world again. After living through the tornado Wednesday night and helping in the immediate aftermath, they traveled with the team to Starkville for a weekend series against Mississippi State.

Rosecrans pitched 1 2/3 innings and allowed one run and four hits in Alabama’s first game after the tornado on April 30th, then went 1-for-4 at the plate with a walk on May 1st.

Kennedy appeared twice in the series, combining for 1 2/3 innings, four hits allowed and two strikeouts while giving up one earned run.

“It was special to play for Tuscaloosa at that time,” Kennedy said. “We didn’t know if they were going to cancel the series with all stuff that happened. It was good to get out there and play for the town.”

Rosecrans added, “It really made you think about how lucky we are to be able to play this game and how you take life for granted. You never really realize when one of these games could be your last.”

Less than a week later, the team was able to support Rosecrans again on the baseball field, as Rosecrans came in and pitched the last two outs in Alabama’s 9-0 win at home against LSU.

As the team rallied around Rosecrans and Kennedy, and the city of Tuscaloosa was able to rally around the team.

Not only did the team’s immediate success after the tornado help (Alabama went 4-2 in the 11 days following April 27), but the baseball team joined the softball team in displaying the houndstooth ribbons that quickly became the symbol for Tuscaloosa’s recovery.

“[The houndstooth ribbon] really just reminds you that you’re playing for all of those that lost loved ones and the city itself,” Rosecrans said.

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