Drowning won't stop Xavier-Vandy NCAA game

Posted at 12:10 PM, Jun 03, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Xavier baseball team wasn't sure it would be playing its scheduled NCAA tournament opener Friday night after the drowning of a Vanderbilt player on Thursday.

The NCAA gave Vanderbilt, the host school, the option of postponing the four-team regional until Saturday. But after some consideration, shaken Vanderbilt officials and players decided to play on, an NCAA representative said.

Freshman pitcher Donny Everett died Thursday while fishing with teammates.

The other three regional coaches from Xavier, Washington and UC-Santa Barbara gave the OK to postpone if the Commodores were not ready to play, the  NCAA rep said.

"As you can imagine, the team, the athletic department and the university are trying to come to terms with this tragedy," Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams said in a statement. "His parents and loved ones are on our minds and in our prayers as we share in their grief."

On Friday morning, Vanderbilt players and coaches boarded a bus to Clarksville, Tennessee, about 60 miles away,  to visit with Everett's family. 

Everett, 19,  was one of the nation’s top high school pitchers a year ago and a projected first-round pick in last year’s Major League Draft. But Everett balked on a signing bonus of up to $2.5 million and went to Vanderbilt instead, according to CBS Sports baseball reporter John Heyman.

The right-hander had an 0-1 record with a 1.50 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12 innings this season.

The Coffee County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that Everett was with two teammates and two other people when he tried to swim across Normandy Lake near a bridge on Thursday. The lake is about 60 miles southeast of Nashville.

Everett was halfway across when he asked for help, but friends told Deputy Charles Taylor that they thought Everett was joking because he was smiling. One person went into the water and pulled Everett several feet before letting go, still thinking Everett was joking and struggling to stay afloat himself. When he looked back, Everett had gone under and did not re-surface.

Divers with the county rescue squad found Everett just before 7 p.m. Thursday in 25 feet of water some 15 feet from shore. His body was taken to Nashville for autopsy by the state medical examiner.

Vanderbilt was the College World Series runner-up last year and won the 2014 national title.

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