ABILENE, Texas — Thursday night may have been the easiest night the Howard Payne baseball team had in a week. Finally back on the diamond following last week's rollover crash that sent two players to the hospital, and injured six others, the Yellow Jackets defeated McMurry, 6-5.
The team was returning from its opening series in Hawai'i, when one of the passenger vans carrying nine team members flipped about eight miles south of Rising Star in Eastland County just after 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Those two players were released from the hospital a few days later.
HPU athletic director Hunter Sims was driving a separate van and was about a mile behind the van that crashed. He said it took about an hour before an ambulance left the scene with injured people, but now everyone is doing okay.
"Our guys are recovering nicely," said Sims on Thursday night. "They're all out of the hospital which is a miracle and a gift from God."
Before the game, two McMurry players presented four HPU players with a framed card which had been signed by the McMurry team.
Printed on the card were both team's logo, the American Southwest Conference logo and the phrase "We Are ASC Strong."
"It's been unbelievable," said Sims. "Multiple teams have played for our teams, and have sent us gifts and cards. That's been reassuring and unbelievable the amount of blessings that's been for us.
"Every team in the American Southwest Conference has reached out to us as well. That goes so far to know we're loved and supported."
Sims said there the baseball team does not a financial or physical need, but asked for continued prayers for mental strength..
"I think that's the one thing that gets overlooked, is how it affects the whole individual after. That would be the greatest thing, and letting our guys know they are loved and supported."
HPU's Noah Payne hit a 3-RBI double in the fifth inning to give the Yellow Jackets the lead before McMurry rallied to go up 5-4 entering the seventh frame.
That's when a sacrifice fly by Nolyn Box to score Ty McCrain pushed HPU onto its first win of the season.
The series continues on Saturday with a doubleheader in Brownwood starting at noon.