The news came in the fall and hit home for the Florida Gators’ junior infielder.
It was the middle of fall baseball and conditioning when it was announced that Deacon Liput would be suspending immediately and indefinitely for an undisclosed reason.
The last time you saw him he was fielding the final out at TD Ameritrade, his throw landing in JJ Schwarz’s mitt for the final out of the season, igniting the eruption and dog pile as the Gators celebrated a National Championship. Now, he didn’t know when of if he would be able to join his teammates again.
Liput sat out the rest of the fall but was able to rejoin the team in the spring for workouts and practice. He wasn’t cleared to play, however, which meant watching his teammates from the dugout and then from his apartment when the team hit the road.
“Not being able to play is really hard considering I’ve been playing baseball my whole life. When something you dedicate so much time to and effort to gets taken away it’s really hard,” he said. “Sometimes that’s the lessons you gotta learn and I was able to learn from it.”
Liput sat out the first 14 games of the season, 25% of the regular season schedule, before getting a start against UCF.
“It’s very nice to have Deacon back. He definitely brings a boost to the lineup,” senior catcher JJ Schwarz said. “He was very excited. It kind of felt like opening day for him freshman year. I was excited for him.”
It wasn’t a great. Liput went 0-2 with strikeout and 0-11 heading into the second start game on Saturday against Rhode Island.
“Obviously I didn’t get off to the best of starts but I stuck with it and realized it’s not always about results,” he said. “I put a couple of barrels on balls earlier. It was just about sticking with my approach.”
In the second game of the double header, already 0-1 in the game and 0-5 on the day, he lined a double into right field. He was on the board and received perhaps the biggest reaction from the dugout that any player had received to that point. It was a big moment but a bigger one came later when a single up the middle tied the game at two in the bottom of the ninth. He would later come around to score the winning run as well.
It’s been a long road to get back to that kind of feeling.
Things could have gone differently in the fall but Liput owned up to his mistake and did what was asked of him off the field in order for him to get back on the field with his teammates.
“The most important thing that I learned is your actions off the field weigh on more than just yourself. It has an impact on everyone outside of that including teammates, coaches, university, family and everything,” he said. “I really learned from that and I’ve grown as a person. It felt really good to be back with the team. I was just focusing on being the best teammate I could throughout my suspension.”