The Heavy Hitters: Swinging for the Fences

Jenna Eason

Jenna Eason

Sophie Peel, Staff Writer

 

Tony Perella was dressing for class at 8 a.m on a Tuesday morning after football workouts his freshman year when he heard his teammates talking about Intramural softball. Several of them were trying to scrape together teams for the upcoming season.

Perella got inspired. He recruited six of his teammates to join what the group would eventually name themselves the “Heavy Hitters.” Three of the boys lived in Plunkett with Perella, and the other two were close friends.

The name was inspired by the general body type of the players, Perella said. Nearly all of the roster players weigh in at 250, and most are offensive linemen for Mercer football.

“We aren’t the little team out there. We’re the big fellas. Sometimes it works to our advantage, sometimes not. That’s the fun of it though.”

Intramural Sports might be seen as lackadaisical or only for fun, but Perella’s team possesses some real experience.

Wilson Heres, now a senior, played baseball his whole life. So did senior Tyler Zielenske. Perella came to Mercer planning on being a dual athlete for football and baseball. Because of his demanding engineering major, he had to choose one; football took priority but only by a small margin.

“I still wonder if I made the right decision sometimes. I miss it. A lot,” he said.

But Perella’s nights on the Intramural team harken back to his baseball days. Perella said the environment is surprisingly competitive.

“We wanna win,” he said.

However, winning involves picking only nine out of 12 players on the roster to play in the game. Perella said they discuss weekly who has performed well in the past. Though it isn’t always civil, the team manages to hash out who will play with limited injuries.

“We’ve had our fair share of disputes over the past four years,” Perella said.

If there is a campus event or group, Perella will be in it. He is a leader of SAAC, is an avid participant of Habitat for Humanity and has worked on countless charity committees.

Intramural softball is his time to let go of some of what he calls that “nice guy” stuff, and bring out a different side of the infamous “Tony P.” When Perella is on the field, he is not always the recognizably soft-spoken, smiley Tony.

The team’s roster has several powerhouses. Perella dubs the Ward brothers, Tyler and Jonathon, “Mr. Macon” and “Mr. Macon Jr.”

Both of those boys, Perella noted, have genes that make them the perfect candidates for some hard-hitting softball competition.

Though Perella said they got “whacked” by Alpha Tau Omega’s first team last weekend, he said they have the potential to be the best team at Mercer.

“We have the same core as the past three years. That’s our biggest strength. We’re all incredibly close,” Perella said.

Maybe this fourth and final year will be the turning point for the Heavy Hitters. Until then, Perella said that his only goal is to make people’s day.

“I don’t want to be remembered for football, or for engineering. Just for making people smile,” Perella said.