NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The No. 41 and the initials "DE'' were everywhere around Hawkins Field as the Vanderbilt Commodores, who are hosting the NCAA tournament's Nashville Regional, mourned the death of freshman pitcher Donny Everett.
College baseball shared Vanderbilt's grief Friday.
Everett drowned Thursday while on a fishing trip at a Tennessee lake, and his teammates waited out a storm delay Friday night in hopes of taking the field for their NCAA opener against Xavier, as baseball offered a potential respite from an emotionally draining 26 hours.
The game was eventually postponed until Saturday at noon, followed by games at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said his Commodores wanted to try to play.
"We could've not played," Corbin said. "I'm not so sure that would've been a healthy thing for the kids. It may have set them back. When you go through something like this, I don't have the answers. There's not a textbook. I'm just trying to work through it as best we can. I still believe that was the best thing to do to help them and to work through the emotions."
An impromptu memorial in Everett's honor was created at Hawkins Field, Vanderbilt's stadium in Nashville.
Fans leaving flowers just inside Hawkins Field in memory of Vanderbilt freshman Donny Everett, who drowned Thursday. pic.twitter.com/S7MJ9FDkzx— Travis Haney (@TravHaneyESPN) June 4, 2016
"Gonna be with us on the field tonight and the rest of the season,'' pitcher Collin Snider posted on Twitter, along with a photo showing a black Vandy cap with "DE41'' written in gold near the bill.
Fans tacked No. 41 pins and ribbons on their hats and shirts while waiting out UC-Santa Barbara's 14-inning, 4-3 win over Washington -- which took nearly five hours -- to open play in the Nashville Regional.
Moments of silence were held before every NCAA game Friday, and the South Carolina Gamecocks wrote Everett's initials and number on their caps, along with a small cross.
Everett, 19, Tennessee's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2015, went fishing with two teammates and two other people after practice Thursday. He tried to swim across Normandy Lake near a bridge and was halfway across when he asked for help. Friends told a Coffee County Sheriff's deputy they thought Everett was joking because he was smiling.
One person went into the water and pulled Everett several feet before letting go, still thinking Everett was joking and struggling to stay afloat himself. When he looked back, Everett had gone under. He did not resurface from the lake, which is about 60 miles southeast of Nashville.
Divers with the Coffee County Rescue Squad found Everett just before 7 p.m. Thursday in 25 feet of water, some 15 feet from shore. His body was taken to Nashville for an autopsy by the state medical examiner.
Corbin informed his Commodores on Thursday night of Everett's death. They met again Friday morning, and they decided to play.
"They understand the level of guilt that those two kids have thrown upon themselves, and they're trying to help them through that," Corbin said.
The 2014 national champ and 2015 national runner-up, Vanderbilt was given the option of postponing its regional opener until Saturday. After the Commodores opted to play, they boarded buses to visit Everett's family in Clarksville, Tennessee, before heading to the stadium.
Athletic director David Williams hugged Corbin and the coach's wife, Maggie, and said everyone is hurting right now as Vandy officials try to help the players.
"We're all just going to lean on each other and help each other," Williams said. "Everybody's trying to be the best that they can be and get through this. I don't know what else to say."
Everett, who was a standout at Clarksville (Tennessee) High School, was considered a potential mid-first-round pick in the 2015 MLB amateur draft -- Baseball America had ranked him 21st among prospects -- but remained steadfast in honoring his commitment to Vanderbilt.
The Milwaukee Brewers still took a chance and selected the right-hander in the 29th round.
Everett finished his freshman season at Vandy with an 0-1 record and a 1.50 ERA, with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings, and he pitched one shutout inning on May 24 in the SEC tournament.
At Clarksville High, Everett threw a fastball that could hit 99 mph. ESPN Scouts Inc. said Everett had "the most pure arm strength of any high school arm in the class," called him "the rare innings-eater who misses bats" and said "there's a strong possibility he becomes a reliever."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.