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XULA baseball returns today after six decades away

Xavier University of Louisiana has brought its baseball program back from the dead, taking the field for the first time since the Civil Rights Movement.

XULA baseball is back.

After a 61-year hiatus (and a weather-related delay), the Black and Gold are returning to the diamond, playing Bryant & Stratton in a double-header today at Wesley Barrow Stadium.

The rebirth comes after the nation's Catholic HBCU decided in 2019 to revive the program, alongside a brand-new softball program (which began its season earlier this month).

The announcement was followed by the hiring of Adrian Holloway as head baseball coach a little over a year ago, and a slew of player signings thereafter.

One such player is Blair Frederick, a 23-year-old former LSU pitcher and New Orleans native who is now reviving his own baseball experience—having last played for a college team in 2018.

Frederick, now a graduate student and private baseball instructor, was profiled this month by New Orleans’ local NBC affiliate, as well as the New Orleans Advocate.

He will be joined by a number of JUCO and Division-I transfers, as well as “homegrown” freshman talent, in their games today against the Bobcats, a junior college program with campuses around the country. (XULA competes in the NAIA's Red River Athletic Conference for baseball and several of its other sports.)

The first pitch will be thrown by Judge Ivan Lemelle, a Black Catholic district judge who recently became the only living person nominated by New Orleans' City Council Street Renaming Commission to have a street renamed in honor.

Major League Baseball is also in on the action, with the New Orleans MLB Youth Academy today announcing their partnership with both the baseball and softball programs. The local youth incubator will allow them use of their practice and game facilities, including the stadium—which the MLB helped rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

The academy also boasts of 10 alumni now playing for their hometown Gold Nuggets.

Their first foray into college athletics will air live on Facebook at 4pm CST.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, in priesthood formation with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).