Vanderbilt to honor one who should have but never did play for baseball team

Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 11:53pm

Stephen Gant never played a game at Hawkins Field.

Yet, he left an immeasurable impact on the Vanderbilt baseball program. And the Commodores plan to express their support this weekend.

On Saturday, Vanderbilt will honor the Gant family prior to Saturday’s game against Tennessee.

Stephen Gant died almost a year ago on April 3, 2012 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The highly touted pitcher from Parsons, Tenn., would have been a freshman this spring at Vanderbilt.

Stephen’s parents, Tony and Gloria, will be recognized before the game, along with members of his immediate and extended family.

“I’ve spoken with [Gloria] through the course of the year and certainly the pain is still fresh and probably always will be,” coach Tim Corbin said. “No one wants to be in that position. But they are handling it as best they can. I want them to see the support they will have from a school their son was going to attend. We just want to be there for them a little bit and have them meet the kids that Stephen would have played with.”

Gant was only 19 and a senior at Riverside High School when his body was found on the side of a road in Perry County.

He was a promising right-handed pitcher, who Corbin even compared to former Vanderbilt standout Sonny Gray because of his smaller physique, power arm, competitive drive and rural background. He was projected by some as a first-round pick in last year’s Major League Baseball draft.

“It is just a very difficult situation,” Corbin said. “We want to make the best of it but we certainly want to honor Stephen and his parents and his family who are coming this weekend.”