They came to play. Members of the Hays High School Rebel baseball team were at Canyon High School in New Braunfels Thursday playing a tournament. It's their first game since the sudden death of their coach Sunday morning.
There was no memorial in the dugout, no moments of silence before the first pitch.
The game, in a way, was a reflection of how David Null led his teams to multiple state playoff appearances since becoming head coach in 2009.
"I think its important for them to get back on, its been an incredibly tough week for these kids. This is the game the coach taught them to love and respect and I think tey are out here trying to honor him and his memory by paying the game he taught them," said Bill Irby; his son is the catcher
The healing process started Monday at their home field. Baseballs with personal messages and tributes to Coach Null were placed in several dugout lockers.
On Tuesday, the team met privately with Coach Null's wife. A memorial service was also held Wednesday on campus. Friday, after another tournament game, the team will go to the funeral.
For Nancy Hunter, her son plays first base, getting back on the field is a step in getting back to normal.
"The funeral being tomorrow thats another obstacle, but then after that we can get back to playing ball and hopefully make coach proud," said Hunter.
Many of the players have played ball together since Little League. Dale Burnett coached eight of them a few years ago and says their strong bond will do much more than just get them through the season.
"They will have learned just to appreciate each day, and they've also ahd time to reflect on the tough love he gave them.. I think the life lesson is; anything worth going for has a price to pay and thats, a lot of hard work. And thats something he left them," said Burnett.
The team lost the game 7 to 5. It was a disappointment but, as Burnett said, the main lesson for this team will go beyond what was on the score board.