KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Before Ben Joyce was a Tennessee Vol and had the fastest pitch in college baseball history, he was a child with a dream to be one of the best in baseball.
Ben was raised in Farragut with his twin brother, Zach, by Alan and Joni Joyce.
Joni said her boys' dreamed of playing professional baseball since their early childhood.
"We would just spend as much time outside as we could playing kickball, football, baseball," Joni said. "I mean, it got to a point where I couldn't throw with them or catch with them anymore because it scared me."
Joni's fears foreshadowed an unlucky Auburn batter's fate when Ben pitched the fastest ball in college baseball history at 105.5 miles per hour.
"I think our little secret of throwing fast just got out," Alan said. "The biggest surprise to me is the notoriety that it's taken on."
Ben's parents said the attention brings some pressure, but he handles it better than them.
"I'd like to sit back and relax, but I find myself on the edge of the seat—not just as a parent— but also as a fan," Alan said.
"I hold a rosary during every game and say silent prayers ... that he'll go out and help his team and be happy with how he did," Joni added.
Alan and Joni hope their son will be on the mound this weekend against Notre Dame in the Super Regional matchup but said Ben and his fellow Vols have their sights set on a national title.
Joni added that Ben would love to pitch if Vols head coach Tony Vitello calls his name.
"He wants to be a contributing part of it but he's just enjoying the experience of being part of this team and the energy," she said.
Alan, Joni and Zach will be at Lindsey Nelson Stadium cheering Ben on.
"He loves looking up and knowing we're there," Alan added.
Game one against Notre Dame will start at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Game two is at 2 p.m. on Saturday.