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Courtesy: WMU

Former Broncos Ballard, Scheffler to Throw Out First Pitches at Friday’s Baseball Game

Courtesy: Kristin Keirns, associate director of athletic media relations
Release: 05/09/2012
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KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Rising country music sensation Frankie Ballard Jr., and current Detroit Lions tight end Tony Scheffler will throw out ceremonial first pitches prior to Friday's 3 p.m. baseball game against Northern Illinois.

Ballard and Scheffler were teammates at Western Michigan under former head baseball coach Fred Decker.

"It's a privilege to have both Frankie and Tony back in Kalamazoo," said current Bronco head coach Billy Gernon. "There are many iconic Bronco alum out there and these two guys are no exception."

Both Ballard and Scheffler played baseball at Western Michigan from 2003-05. A two-sport athlete, Scheffler also played three seasons of football at WMU.

Both have gone on to excel in career paths outside of baseball, Ballard making his name as one of the hottest up-and-coming artists in country music, while Scheffler is entering his seventh season in the NFL.

Trading his glove for a guitar, Ballard is currently signed with Warner Bros. Records and released his self-titled debut album last May. His first single, "Tell Me You Get Lonely," became a top-five video chart success, and made the Top 40 on the Hot Country Songs chart, as did his second single, "A Buncha Girls." In the past year, he has gone on tour as the opening act for Taylor Swift, as well as Bob Seger.

Scheffler was drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos and is headed into his third season with the Detroit Lions, after spending four with Denver. He has hauled in over 200 receptions for 2,621 yards and has 21 career touchdown receptions. Scheffler was a two-time First-Team All-Mid-American Conference selection in football at Western Michigan and had a .293 career batting average on the baseball team.

After lettering one season at Mott Community College, Ballard played three seasons at Western Michigan, batting .296 as a senior. His father, Frank Ballard Sr., also suited up for the Broncos (1971-74), earning Second Team All-Mid-American Conference honors as junior after leading the team with a .385 batting average. A nearby Battle Creek, Mich., native, Ballard credits his father as his inspiration to pursue both baseball and music.

With a 10-10 MAC record, and six conference games to go, Western Michigan (20-25 overall) looks to lock down a spot in the eight-team MAC Tournament at the head of the month. This weekend's three-game series against Northern Illinois (14-34, 7-14 MAC) is the final home conference series for the Broncos.

Friday's game one begins at 3 p.m., followed by 1 p.m. contests Saturday and Sunday. WMU will honor its senior class prior to Sunday's game. Admission is free to all home Bronco baseball games.