(WTNH)–On Friday night, Central Connecticut State baseball will open NCAA Tournament play with a game against No. 6 TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Blue Devils are riding a seven-game winning streak heading into the tournament. Their season turned around when star senior Franklin Jennings lost his father to cancer.
“We’re gonna go down there and shock people,” Jennings says.
And why not? Jennings says he knew this team had a chance to be special back in the beginning of March. The Blue Devils were swept at Oklahoma but they didn’t hang their heads—they decided to fight back.
“We put together good at-bats, our pitching staff stayed in games for a little while, and we competed,” Jennings said.
The other moment that helped galvinize them was earlier this spring, when Jennings lost his father to liver cancer.
“I think that’s when we became a team, when coach Hickey and I can’t thank him enough for allowing the guys to come down to my father’s memorial service having them there was the best feeling I’ve ever had besides winning this tournament ”
His teammates started wearing green bracelets to honor his father, and spread awareness about liver cancer. Jennings memorialized his father with a tattoo on his chest.
“Honestly, when I’m playing I do my little tribute to my dad before I go up to the plate. I tap my chest twice, I have a tattoo over my heart that my father gave me, a great gift, he believed in me so I tap that twice and point up to the sky ”
Jennings says he tries not to think about his dad’s death, and the baseball field helps ease his pain.
“When I miss him, when I’m having a tough day, I don’t think, he’s not here, I know he’s looking down on me and he’s really proud of me,” he said.