College Baseball May Have Its 'Ultimate Cinderella Story'

Birmingham-Southern Panthers are keeping their closing school alive with a late run at glory
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2024 1:00 PM CDT

Birmingham-Southern College's Board of Trustees made the tough decision to close the private liberal arts college in Alabama this spring after years of low enrollment and financial issues. As of May 31, the 168-year-old school will be no more. Its baseball team, however, could be continuing a run made for the movies. After starting the season 13-10, the Birmingham-Southern Panthers found inspiration in the heartbreaking closure of their school. It was a "really hard day. A lot of guys cried," coach Jan Weisberg tells the Washington Post. But the players found strength in Weisberg's maxim that they were "not done yet." Per the Alabama Daily News, they decided to play "for the program's legacy" and "all the players that came before."

The team went on to win 13 of their last 15 games to finish with a 24-12 record and earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship. Ranked third in their division, the Panthers beat the No. 2 seed, then the first. With a final win against second-ranked Transylvania University on Sunday, the team emerged as regional champs in "the ultimate Cinderella story," per BroBible. The Panthers next play the University of Wisconsin La Crosse in a Super Regional beginning Friday. If they can win two of three weekend games, they'll advance to the Division III World Series. Eight regional champs will face off beginning May 31, the same day Birmingham-Southern closes for good.

That means if Birmingham-Southern advances, "they will be playing for a school that no longer exists," as a viral social media post points out. "That's movie stuff," one person commented, per the Post. Indeed, documentary film crews were at the team's practice this week and will be along for the ride until it ends. "These guys won't have a field to come show their kids and grandkids. They won't have a campus. But maybe, by allowing these people in, it will give them something to show people the journey they went through," Weisberg tells the Post. "I told the guys, 'Let's not limp to the finish just because we're in a terrible situation.' Anyone would understand if we did, but our guys bought in." (More uplifting news stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.