UCONN Pitcher Who Made Season Debut in Lubbock Survives Florida Condo Collapse
Back on March 12th, UCONN Pitcher Justin Willis made his season debut right here in Lubbock, Texas against the Red Raiders.
Willis is a reliever and made two appearances out of the pen against Texas Tech, getting a strikeout against one batter to end an inning in game one, then throwing a complete inning and striking out the side in his second appearance.
The rest of the season went well for Willis. He had 16 appearances and only gave up runs in two of them, ending the season with a 2.60 ERA. The Huskies won 13 times when he appeared in games and lost only three -- twice to Texas Tech. That helped the Huskies win the Big East Championship and make it to the NCAA tournament, where they were eliminated by Central Michigan in the South Bend Regional.
It was the junior right-hander's best season of college baseball yet. Coming off an injured season and the COVID-19 pandemic, things were going well.
Then, a South Florida vacation almost turned tragic.
Yahoo Sports! has relayed a story about Willis surviving the deadly incident in Surfside, Florida where a high-rise building collapsed. At the time of publishing this story, there have been 10 confirmed deaths and more than 150 people still accounted for. When the building started to collapse, Willis and his family were on the 11th floor.
You can read the entire story on Yahoo.com, but the entire ordeal reads like it's straight out of Hollywood. Being near the top of the building, they felt the initial shake that Willis says felt like a jet took off from the roof. Willis and his sister happened to still be awake when it began. When they looked outside into the hallway to see what was going on, there were holes where the elevators used to be and the apartment next door was just gone.
Willis, his parents, and his sister leaped into action and made their way to the stairwell, which was missing most of its wall. The 11 floors took 15 minutes to traverse down because of debris.
Along the way, the family helped open a door on the 6th floor that was stuck open and got an 89-year old woman out of the building safely after carrying her through the flooded garage on the ground floor. According to Willis, they were feet away from being crushed in the collapse.
The search and rescue operation at Champlain Towers remains ongoing, as does the investigation into what caused the collapse.
Remembering the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum
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