Months after tragedy, team celebrates walk-off berth in NAIA World Series

In January of this year, a massive, powerful, and deadly tornado ripped through Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Particularly hard hit was the campus of William Carey University ... 

Needless to say, repairing all that structural damage -- to say nothing of the human toll -- was a massive undertaking for any school, let alone a small one of limited resources. 

Speaking of recovery and healing, it's always too trite to say that sports achieve much to that end, but there's a kernel of truth in there, as well. For anecdotal evidence, check out the William Carey baseball team on Thursday celebrating not only a comeback walk-off win over Southeastern University in postseason play but also its first berth in the NAIA World Series since 1978 ... 

In this do-or-die affair, William Carey was down 8-3 in the fifth inning. It wound up winning 10-9 on a walk-off single by ninth-place hitter Wes Brown. It was the Crusaders' third comeback win in four postseason triumphs this year.  

Here's another look from the seats. Take particular note of No. 42's exuberance ... 

CRUSADERS WIN!!!!! Carey comes from behind and wins on a walk of single from Wes Brown in the bottom of the 9th inning to advance to the NAIA World Series!

Posted by William Carey Baseball on Thursday, May 18, 2017

You'll note that No. 42 undertook a well-executed celebratory barrel-roll coming out of the dugout. He's James Land -- 6-foot, 230-pound James Land -- and, with 19 dingers and a .391 batting average, he's also the Southern States Athletic Conference Player of the Year. As the Hattiesburg American notes, Land also predicted that Brown, the nine-hole hitter, was about to send the team to the World Series. That is to say, Mr. Land's exuberance is quite understandable. 

William Carey will play for the NAIA national championship starting on May 26 in Lewiston, Idaho. Given what the school has already overcome, the Crusaders will surely be ready. 

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