ODU Monarchs mourning, winning for hurting head baseball coach

ODU baseball coach Chris Finwood
Posted at 11:25 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 23:35:20-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Baseball is a game of failure. Most players spend more time on the bench than on the bases, as even the most-successful hitters make an out 70 percent of the time.

Therefore, a head coach is part manager, part psychiatrist - picking up his players if they're down.

For Old Dominion University baseball, it's a change-up this season: the opposite is taking place.

"We knew Coach Finwood was hurting," ODU outfielder Kyle Battle admitted Tuesday. "We just tried to be there for him."

On April 1st, Annette Finwood, head coach Chris Finwood's wife and partner of 27 years, passed away from pancreatic cancer.

"The guys have just been amazing," Finwood said Tuesday. "Them reaching out to me and my family and my kids - those things, it means the world to me."

As they feel for their head coach, they play for him - and win for him, too. The Monarchs rattled off seven straight victories following Annette's passing.

"We just wanted to give it all out on the field," Battle said. "He loves being out here, he loves watching us play. He's worked as hard as we have, day in day out."

"It was a big part of her life for a long time - watching the guys out here," Finwood, the 10th-year head coach said of his wife's affinity for ODU baseball.

This week, ODU earned its highest national ranking in 15 years - coming in as the number 22 team in the country. Many around the program catch-on to the timing of this feat, as the rankings were released one day after Mrs. Finwood's birthday.

"Former players have said that, and former players parents have said that," Finwood said of the unique timing of his team's breakthrough into the top 25. "It makes you feel good about all of it."

"With the timing and everything - it's lining up pretty well," Battle added. "But, of course, we wish this story wasn't a thing. He knows we're here for him. We're going to make a run for him this year."

And that run, and these wins cannot make-up for Coach Finwood's tragic loss. But it will certainly provide a pick-me-up - a basis of baseball.

In lieu of flowers, the Finwood family has asked for donations to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.