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Fans experience tournament fun at opening ceremonies

By Mike Hensley

Baseballs were soaring and fireworks were screaming Tuesday night at Riddle Pace Field during the opening ceremonies of 2015 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament.

The evening’s festivities included an awards banquet, homerun derby, fireworks and an autograph session, all free of charge for the fans.

“It’s a great opportunity to just hang out with the family and friends and enjoy this beautiful weather,” said Troy resident and fan Dewayne Norman. “My son plays baseball, so it’s fun to come out here and watch these student athletes. Just being able to come out here is really enjoyable.”

Fans were given an opportunity to come out and experience something in the homerun derby that doesn’t happen on a daily basis.

“It’s nice that Troy University and the Sun Belt Conference were able to do this. I can bring my whole family to watch and enjoy this,” Troy resident Marlon Brown said.

Troy Mayor Jason Reeves was in attendance Tuesday night and welcomed not only the teams of players participating in the event but the friends, families and fans as well.

After welcoming everyone to the event, Reeves threw out the evening’s first pitch to kick off the festivities.

Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson was also in attendance Tuesday evening.

“This is why conferences exist, to allow student athletes to have the opportunity to play in post season,” Benson said. “Thanks to Troy, and all the staff, and sponsors who will make this tournament a great success.”

Benson later went on to tell the players and all the participants to “play hard, play fair, respect your teammates, and to have a great time and have a great tournament.”

Tuesday night was also a night to celebrate success in the classroom as well. The Conference recognized the students who made it on the academic honor roll. These athletes made A-B honor roll during the spring semester, and six from Troy University were named: TJ Binder, Tripp Calhoun, Shaw Pinnell, Marc Skinner, and Adam Tewksbury.

Four Troy students were also recognized as being members of the Commissioners list, a list that celebrated achieving all A’s: Peyton Fuller, Cody Hughes, Jeremy McGowan, and Levi Tate.

“I have three kids in school and it is definitely good to see that these guys are doing something beside playing baseball, they are also keeping up their grades,” Brown said.

The All-Conference team was announced as well Tuesday night. In all, four Trojans were selected. The Trojans who were selected as All-Conference Second team members were junior pitcher Grant Bennett, junior pitcher Lucas Brown, and junior outfielder Logan Hill. Senior designated hitter David Hall walked away with All-Conference first team member.

The Sunbelt Conference Tournament begins today at 9 a.m. with Georgia State matching up with Georgia Southern. Troy will close out day one action when they play the University of Texas-Arlington at 7:30 p.m.