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Hello and I would like to welcome you to my HBCU Softball Blog.   My name is Byron Mayfield and I am from Tocoa Falls, GA.  Having daughters that played softball growing up at HBCU colleges, I have developed a love for it and continue to follow the MEAC,SWAC, CIAA, and SIAC around as well as following them via the internet.   This year with the help of some softball family friends we will develop a weekly story on teams as well as in the coming weeks developing a pre-season all HBCU Team as well as an HBCU Division I team and a Division II team.   All of this will be helped by the hard working SID’s in the conferences.  Thanks and I look forward to communicating with each and everyone of you.  If you have a story of interest or would like to contact me, you can do so at bmayfield_21@yahoo.com.

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Catching up with Claflin University Softball

COVID-19 ended softball for HBCU teams during the 2020 season, but we have reached out to several institutions regarding a Q & A with some players and coaches to give HBCU Softball fans an inside edition to some programs.

Today, we have Bre’Zhay Chambers and Chaston Huntly along side their Head Coach, Marty Kinard.

First up for a Q & A, we have Bre’Zhay Chambers.

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Bre’Zhay,  tell us about yourself:

My name is Bre’Zhay Chambers a rising junior pitcher from Rock Hill, SC.  I major in Biology with a minor in Chemistry.

Your Freshman campaign ended in a walk off loss to Winston-Salem State at the 2019 CIAA Championships,  tell us how that motivated you and your team going to 2020? 

After taking that big loss against WSSU, it motivated my team and I to work even hard on the field and become more determined to reach our 2020 goal as a team.

You were off to a good start in 2020, with a couple of CIAA Pitcher of the Week honors.  How will that motivate you as you go into the 2021 season?  

Having had a great start to the season in 2020 it motivates me to have the same mind-set, focus and reach the goals in the 2021 season.

Your 2020 season ended a couple of days before the CIAA Round Up due to COVID-19 pandemic, tell us how that felt for your and your teammates?

We were disappointed,  the team and I were very pumped up and excited for the CIAA Round Up and the rest of the season. 

What have you been up to during the COVID-19 quarantine?

During quarantine, I have been working out and working at my local Food Lion.

Where is your favorite place to eat near campus? 

My favorite place to eat near campus is A-Town wings and Tokyo Grill.

Thank You Bre’Zhay for your time,  next up we have Chaston Huntly.

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Chaston,  tell us about yourself. 

My name is Chaston Huntly, I am a rising senior majoring in Sports Management with a minor in Business.  I am on pace to graduate early.  I was born and raised in Lexington, SC with my parents Ken and Dez and my youngest sister Chandler.  I have been playing softball since I was 4 years old with the guidance of my father and support from my mother and sister. I have played on some of the best lower states teams in North and South Carolina.  I was an all-region player 4 years in a row at Gray Collegiate.  

You had a really good Freshman season and were off to a good start in 2020,  talk to us a little about the success you have had.

Coming in as a Freshman,  I was not expected to hit clean up in the line up knowing that there were several upperclassmen that were still present. I proved that I was capable of handling the job and it led me to earn All CIAA honors, D2 CCA NCAA Atlantic All Region honors, and a batting average of .391 which was good enough to be named Offensive Player of the Year at Claflin. 

Even though we were runner up in the 2019 Championship,  the pressure was on me with 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd down 4-2.  I was able to deliver a base hit to right field to tie the game at 4.  Although we did not win,  that was a moment I will never forget.

Looks like you had another great moment early on during the 2020 season,  with a walk off home run at home versus Anderson.  What was that feeling like?

At that moment Anderson was ranked in Division II Softball and for us to sweep both games and to hit a walk off home run was exhilarating.

What are you and your teams goals for the 2021 season?

Both goals would be to play together, become a closer family, and to have a winning season, and win the CIAA Tournament.  I also would like to leave with a ring!!!

What have you been up to during the COVID-19 quarantine?

During the first half of quarantine I attended summer school classes and still currently working. I have picked up more frequent running, working out, journaling, and most of all bonding with my family.

Favorite place to eat near campus?

My favorite place to eat near campus is Tokyo Grill.

Thank You Chaston for taking the time to answer some question for us,  next up we have Head Coach, Marty Kinard.

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Talk to us about what your mindset was to hear the news of the cancellation of the 2020 season due to COVID-19?  It hurt!  It was the hardest thing I have had to do in my coaching career was to tell our group that the season was cancelled.  It’s a young group who had so many goals and we were starting to make strides on and off the field, we had just had a good team bonding and team dinner.

How has COVID-19 changed recruiting?

It is different, a lot more time consuming have to watch videos and multiple games as well as call/text recruits, but we aren’t complaining we are doing the best we can given the situation.  Just can’t wait to get back to the ballpark to see some live action.

You had the opportunity to coach in both the CIAA and the SIAC,  what have the differences been for your program?

Well you know there are a lot of similarities.  The CIAA welcomed us with open arms and it was fun to come in and be the new kids on the block, we had a group who really embraced the opportunity.  I still talk to a lot of the coaches in the SIAC, so I am thankful for the relationships that we made over there.  I will tell you this though,  it can be tough to play on the road in the CIAA.

You picked up ALL HBCU transfer Makayla August,  how will she impact your program?

Yeah, Makayla will be a great addition to our program,  she brings a lot of experience and knowledge for the game.  I am thankful that she can reach her goals here at Claflin by being accepted into our Graduate Program.  She is a great young lady, who will fit right in.

Tell us about some players you are excited about moving into the 2021 season?

To be honest with you,  all of them!  There is no single person to pinpoint!  We were really young in 2020 and some of those Freshmen were really starting to come along and adjust to the college game.   That Freshmen now Sophomore class is going to be good for a long time.  The now Juniors and Seniors were apart of that run to the CIAA Championship, so they are motivated.  They are all a hard working group,  you don’t have to ask them to put in the extra work, they want to succeed and be better and for that I am thankful to have them in our program.

What are you looking for your team in 2021?

Well first and foremost, for them to be back on campus and on the field in good health.  I also want to see them continue to grow and reach their goals on and off the field. I know it’s easy to say a CIAA Championship and trust me that’s one goal, but we have to continue to work hard and put ourselves in position to do so.  Those things aren’t just handed to you, you have to work hard for them and get through some obstacles along the way.  I’ll say this again,  this is a special group of young ladies who are great in our program on and off the field,  so I’m excited for the future for them!

 

 

Catching up with Fort Valley State’s Destiny Fitzpatrick

COVID-19 ended college softball early during the 2020 season as many HBCU Softball programs were either beginning conference play or about to start conference play.  We are helping our HBCU Softball fans get to know some of our student-athletes with a Q & A session as the 2020 summer comes to an end and we begin to prepare for 2021.

Today, we are excited to have Destiny Fitzpatrick of Fort Valley State University for you for a Q & A.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Destiny Fitzpatrick from Lagrange, Georgia.  I’m an upcoming sophomore.  I have a twin brother.  I’m majoring in early childhood/special education.

You just finished a semester and a half at Fort Valley State.  Tell us about your experience and why you chose FVSU?

Although I only finished a semester and a half I still had a great first year at FVSU. It was my first time being away from my family and I feel like I did quite well.  I chose FVSU because I feel like the school would better prepare me for life in the real world.

You and your team just finished playing a game at Crossover when you got the news of the cancellation of the remainder of the season. How did you all handle the news?

We were devastated by the news.  We were moving in the right direction and to hear the news that our season was over sucked.

You guys were in to line to make a run in the SIAC East,  what was it going to take to win the East?

Hard work and dedication!  We have a talented group of girls.  We set our goals high.  From the beginning of our season our coach told us if we want to win then we need to do put in the work.  Nobody is going to hand it to us.  And that’s exactly what we did.  We worked every single day to get better. 

Who were you looking forward to playing the most?

Albany State and Tuskegee

What does HBCU Softball mean to you?

To me HBCU Softball means the opportunity for me to play the game I love and help me grow as a person. It also taught me to be strong and defeat any odds against me.  Showing I can play something I love and also get an amazing education without sacrificing who I am.

How was it adjusting from high school softball to college softball?

As I transitioned from high school to college I had to make major adjustments which includes balancing my school work and playing a sport.  I had to balance my class schedule with morning workouts as well as afternoon practice. 

What are you future plans after college?

After college I plan to start my teaching career. I plan to teach 2nd grade at an elementary school.  Later on in life I will be opening my own day care.

When someone visits Fort Valley, Georgia and Fort Valley State University,  where do you recommend they eat at?

I would tell them to go to American Deli.  They have a great philly cheese sandwich.

We want to thank Destiny for taking the time to answer some questions for us.  We hope you have a great summer and we wish you and your Fort Valley State softball team the best of luck during the 2021 season!

Catching up with Virginia State’s Brooklynn Bilyard

COVID-19 ended college softball early during the 2020 season as many HBCU Softball programs were either beginning conference play or about to start conference play. We are helping our HBCU softball fans get to know some of our student-athletes with a Q & A session as the 2020 summer comes to an end and we begin to prepare for 2021.

Today, we are excited to have Brooklynn Bilyard of Virginia State University for you for a Q & A.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Brooklynn Bilyard. I graduate from VSU in May with my Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice!  I’m returning in the fall for my Master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Criminal Justice and Psychology.  My goal is to Federal doing detective work or forensic psychology.  I’m the oldest of 9 children!  Some of hobbies include softball, hiking, and photography.

You transferred to Virginia State, tell us about your experience there.

I love VSU.  Since transferring the students, my coaches, and my team have been extremely welcoming and helpful.  They made my last two years of college fun and exciting. Some of my closest friends have come from my team but also through my time studying at VSU.

What is your thoughts on HBCU and how it has grown since you have been at VSU?

I love the overall environment and experience this HBCU has given me! This school has taught me so much about myself and life.  I do feel HBCU’s should get more recognition the they receive on both the college experience they provide and the academic success that students receive.

You were a few days away from the CIAA Round Up when COVID-19 ended your season,  tell us how that felt for you and your team?

We were excited to play in the Round Up.  We played a lot of tough teams this past season prior to the Round Up getting ready for the teams that we would face during our conference.  It was upsetting to have the season being taken from us but we all understood that it was best for everyone to stay safe and healthy during this crazy time. 

You were also a few days away from playing Winston-Salem State and Claflin at that Round Up,  were you all looking forward to those 2 games?  Any team more than the other?

We love playing both teams.  Both teams have so much determination and will to win it makes playing them so much more fun and exciting!  They both are super challenging teams to play against!

Speaking of Claflin,  you were the winning pitcher when ya’ll upset them at the CIAA Tournament in 2019, sending them to the loser’s bracket and ending their 19 game CIAA win streak.  How was that feeling?

I had numerous emotions.  Exhausted, excited, relief, emotional, stressed, and happy.  Claflin has some of the best hitters in our conference and pitching to them during the tournament was nerve wrecking and challenging. As a pitcher, challenging situations help us grow and that’s one reason I love play them because they don’t make it easy.

Will you be returning for your final year of eligibility which was granted by the NCAA?  If so, what are you looking forward to the most?

I will be returning for my final year of eligibility.  I’m most excited to be back at school with my team and to come back stronger than last year.  I miss my team and coaches more than anything and being from them this long has been challenging!

What have you been up to during the COVID-19 quarantine?

I actually had shoulder surgery.  I started having shoulder pain at the end of February and had torn my labrum in March right before the CIAA Round Up and was told that I could continue to play and finish the season due to it being my Senior year but COVID-19 sent us home and it luckily worked out in my favor.  I had surgery and found out that I tore my labrum and had multiple pieces of broken cartilage stuck in my shoulder joint.  I’ve been doing PT since then and will be throwing again soon.

What are your future plans after college?

After getting my masters my goal is to work for the government.  I would love to do detective work or forensic psychology.  Both interest me so much!

When HBCU visit Petersburg, Virginia and Virginia State University,  where would you recommend that they eat at near campus?

I love Wabi Sabi! It’s a sushi place right down the road from school.  Or Charlotte’s Chicken and Waffles is delicious! I’ve also heard very good things about Shut Yo Mouf in downtown Petersburg.

We want to thank Brooklynn for taking time to answer questions for us and we hope that she continues to rehab successfully.   HBCU softball also thanks Virginia State University and their softball program!

 

 

 

 

 

Catching up with Tuskegee Softball’s Cecelia Tennessee

COVID-19 ended college softball early as many HBCU Softball programs were just getting into conference play.  We had the opportunity to ask some student-athletes questions as we head into the summer of 2020 and look forward to softball again in 2021.

Today, we have Cecelia Tennessee of Tuskegee University for a Q&A.

HBCU Softball:  Tell us about yourself.

Cecelia: My name is Cecelia Tennessee and I’m a senior from Houston, Texas. I’m the oldest of 5 children. I am majoring in occupational therapy and I plan to graduate in Spring of 2021.

HBCU Softball:  You transferred to Tuskegee, how has your experience been there on and off the field?

Cecelia: When I transferred, I was excited to meet some of the girls who were apart of the three peat team and I was very eager to be apart of something great. My first year on and off the field we weren’t very connected with each other and that showed on the field.  The result of that season was hard to look at.  I played third, short, and second. I’ve never pitched but I would’ve if it would’ve put us in a position to win.

HBCU Softball: Your 2020 season ended early due to COVID-19, what was that feeling like for you and your team?

Cecelia: It hurt! We had great momentum.  The energy of the team was amazing and we were looking forward to seeing what new talent we had up against us at the SIAC Crossover.

HBCU Softball: Having reached the SIAC Championship game in 2019, what were your team goals in 2020?

Cecelia: To win!! We gained a lot of confidence and trust within each other through that whole season especially coming off the season we had the year before. We knew that our strengths and weaknesses were in each team we played and we went into each game trying to go play to the best of our ability to get a ring. Even though the outcome not what we wanted it gave us a boost to go even harder next year. In 2020, our goal was to win it all for Coach Colvin and fall short like the year before.

HBCU Softball: After the passing of Coach Colvin, how did that bring the team closer?

Cecelia: Coach Colvin was a great coach.  He was one of those people that could tell something was off with you when you got out the car.  For me and a lot of my teammates that were far from home he has a strong support system so his passing led us closer to each other. We’d call and ask each other about our well-being more often. Together as a team we knew that we had to bring this championship home in his name.  Coach D became our head coach and has been taking great care of us.  It was comforting to have someone who was here and worked with Coach Colvin take over the program.  It’s like we became a family.

HBCU Softball: In 2019 & 2020, you all played a big game early on in the season against Claflin who both times were ranked #1 in our polls.  2019 you defeated them in come from behind fashion and in 2020 beat them 10-0.  What is your teams mindset heading into that game knowing they are #1 at that time?

Cecelia: It has always felt like they were our rivals and we are always pumped but at the same time my teams mindset was no different than any other game. They were just another team with same goals as us which was to win.  We treated it like a regular game despite Claflin’s winning status and in the end we prevailed.

HBCU Softball: What are you and your teams goals for 2021?

Cecelia: Our goal is to pick up where we left off in 2020 and become stronger.  We know that everyone will be coming back from the unfortunate halt in sports trying to be that number one team and we have to out work them.  My personal goal is to be a good teammate on and off the field and in the dugout. I want my teammates to have as much confidence in me as I have in them to get the job done.

HBCU Softball: What have you been up to during the COVID-19 quarantine?

Cecelia: I’ve changed my diet completely which has helped a lot with my endurance.  I’m taking in more healthy proteins and eating more greens.  I’ve also been working at Amazon trying to save up money to buy a new car.

HBCU Softball: What are your future plans after graduation?

Cecelia: After graduation I plan to pass my boards and become a traveling occupational therapist and work with kids. My first stop will be to Seattle because I’ve always wanted to live there. It would be a great place to get my non-profit organization that will help support low income families with children with disabilities up and running.

HBCU Softball: When someone visits Tuskegee University, where is a must go place to go and eat near campus?

Cecelia: There aren’t many places in Tuskegee to eat that you wouldn’t find anywhere else but I’d definitely recommend C&K or Bizzy B’s especially since they always show much love and support to the athletic programs on campus.  I would definitely recommend a drive around the lake to someone new to Tuskegee it’s very therapeutic.

We thank Cecelia for her time and wish her and her Tuskegee teammates nothing but success in all their future endeavors on and off the field.

CIAA Softball Tournament Simulated

Virginia St (1N) defeats Fayetteville St (4S) 7-3
Winston-Salem St (2S) defeats Bowie St (3N) 10-5
Claflin (1S) defeats Elizabeth City St (4N) 10-1
Johnson C Smith (3S) defeats Virginia Union (2N) 4-3

FSU (4S) defeats Bowie St (3N) 11-9; Bowie eliminated
VUU (2N) defeats ECSU (4N) 9-6

Virginia St (1N) defeats Winston (2S) 5-3
Claflin (1S) defeats JCSU (3S) 7-0

FSU (4S) defeats JCSU (3S) 9-5: JCSU eliminated
WSSU (2S) defeats VUU (2N) 8-4; VUU eliminated

Claflin (1S) defeats Virginia St (1N) 1-0

WSSU (2S) defeats FSU (4S) 7-4; FSU eliminated
VSU (1N) defeats WSSU 9-7; WSSU eliminated

Virginia St (1N) defeats Claflin (1S) 4-3
Claflin (1S) defeats Virginia St (1N) 3-0; VSU eliminated

Claflin wins CIAA Championship

 

SIAC Softball Conference Tournament Simulated

 

Spring Hill (1W) defeats Clark Atlanta (4E) 13-3
Kentucky St (3W) defeats Fort Valley St (2E) 6-4
Lane (4W) defeats Savannah St (1E) 5-3
Tuskegee (2W) defeats Albany St (3E) 11-6

 

FVSU (2E) defeats CAU (4E) 7-4; CAU Eliminated
SSU (1E) defeats Albany St (4E) 7-6; ASU Eliminated

Spring Hill (1W) defeats Kentucky St (3W) 8-3
Tuskegee (2W) defeats Lane (4W) 6-3

Lane (4W) defeats FVSU (2E) 3-2; FVSU eliminated
KSU (3W) defeats SSU (1E) 4-2; SSU Eliminated

Spring Hill (1W) 6 defeats Tuskegee (2W) 6-2

KSU (3W) defeats Lane (4W) 9-8; Lane eliminated

Tuskegee (2W) defeats KSU (3W) 7-4; KSU eliminated

Spring Hill (1W) defeats Tuskegee 9-2; Tuskegee eliminated

Spring Hill wins SIAC Championship

2020 HBCU Division I Pre-Season Team

1st Team

P- Crystal Castillo (Prairie View A&M)
P- Destiny Ricks (Texas Southern)
C- Danielle Hansell (Alabama A&M)
1B- Xzarria Simmons (Howard)
2B- Kalita Dennis (Howard)
3B- Dalika Wallace (NC Central)
SS- Tamia Lee-Barbadillo (Alabama A&M)
OF- Alexis Sydnor (Alabama State)
OF- Brianna Anderson (Hampton)
OF- Shelby Deschamps (Norfolk State)
Util- Olivia Daniel (NC Central)
DP- Rikkelle Miller (Grambling)

2nd Team

P- Justine Jean (Alabama State)
P- Kyaira Brown (Florida A&M)
C- Janae Lyles (Hampton)
1B- Lauryn Banks (Texas Southern)
2B- Jasmine Melgoza (Delaware State)
3B- Amari Ramsey (Alcorn State)
SS- Jacki Smith (Bethune-Cookman)
OF- Jazzmaine Hammond (Norfolk State)
OF- Jamesia Stoudemire (Florida A&M)
OF- Terren Vinson (Texas Southern)
Util- Camille Navarro (Howard)
DP- Jaelyn Baker (Delaware State)

2020 Division I HBCU Pre-Season Poll

  1. Bethune Cookman-  Coach Laura Watten has the Wildcats rolling down in Daytona Beach.  The wildcats have won two consecutive MEAC Championships and have taken notice nationally after a win over nationally ranked Oregon in 2019.   Look for the Wildcats to continue their success in 2020.  The success for them starts in the circle as they look at replacing HBCU Pitcher of the Year in Alexis Bermudez.   They will rely on the experience of Sophomore Victoria Guzman and Senior Destiny Enriquez while also looking to transfers Tihana Zupanic and Adriana Sanchez to help lead the way.  After Ryan Jackson transferred to the SEC,  the Wildcats needed someone to step up and that was Junior Shortstop, Jacki Smith.  Look for Smith to continue her success in her Senior year and she will need help from the likes of Kaiya Epps-Lee, Sasha Killings, Kayla Traylor, and a slew of newcomers.    The Wildcats will continue to play a challenging non-conference schedule which will prepare them for MEAC play as they look to make it 3 in a row.

2. Florida A&M–  Coach Veronica Wiggins is looking to get her Rattlers back to the NCAA Regionals in 2020.  To do so, they will need to overcome their rivals, the Wildcats of Bethune Cookman and the rest of the up and coming MEAC.    Senior, Kyaira Brown will lead the way in the circle for the Rattlers in 2020 and she will get help from her staff in from Sophomore Brandice Boatwright and transfer Gabriella Williams.   Always playing a challenging schedule, the Rattlers will need to get their offense rolling early to help their pitching staff after losing their top hitters from a year ago in Alexis Day and Tyra Bowers.  Look for Jamesiaa Stoudemire and Hera Varmah to lead the way.  The Rattlers will need some new comers to step up if they want to challenge the Wildcats for the MEAC Title.

3. Alabama State–  Antyime there is a change in coaching, especially late in the fall you wonder how a team will react.  Todd Bradley steps in for the Hornets and is faced with the challenge of getting them back to the NCAA Regionals in winning a SWAC Championship.  In the circle, the Hornets return Senior Justine Jean but she will need help if they want to have continued success, so she will look towards teammates Alexa Veamoi and Vanessa Bradford to complete the staff. Offensively, the Hornets are led at the top of the lineup by Senior, Alexis Sydnor as she will set the table for the rest of the offense, but she needs others to step up and she will look for that from Senior Hailey Walker and Sophomore Alexis Massie as well as a slew of newcomers.   The Hornets are faced with a challenge, but look for them to put themselves in position to win a SWAC Championship in 2020.

4. Hampton–  After leaving the MEAC for the Big South in 2019, the Pirates finished the Season 23-25,  after a disappointing season they will look to compete in the Big South and still remain one of the top HBCU Softball programs.   The Pirates took notice nationally after signing former Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis,  look for Davis to come in and make her impact immediately in the Pirates program.  A young Pirate squad that doesn’t return much experience in the circle will rely on their staff of Emily Workman, Kiaya Jeusi, and Freshman Kayla Reich.    Offensively, the Pirates are led by lone Senior Brianna Anderson.  She will get help at the plate from Janae Lyles and a slew of newcomers.   While the Pirates may be young, the Pirates have a load of talent.  Look for them to climb the ladder in the HBCU ranks and then make some noise in the Big South while doing so.

5. Prairie View A&M– After winning the SWAC in 2018, the Panthers fell short in 2019,  with 29 players listed on their roster and a load of talent,  the Panthers will be one of the top teams in the SWAC in 2020.   For the Panthers, it starts in the circle with do it all pitcher Crystal Castillo.  Castillo will lead the way in her Redshirt Senior season, but she will need help as she lost her counterparts, Vanessa Castro and Ashley Higgins.  Look for Senior Taylor Drury to step up in the circle for the Panthers.   Offensively, the Panthers have to find a way to replace Destinee Williams and Laurisa Hernandez,   Diavionne Dewalt and Gabrielle Foncesca should step up for the Panthers and lead the way.  If they can find a way to get Castillo some run support and some help in the circle then look for the Panthers to put themselves in position to bring the SWAC Championship back to Prairie View.

6. Texas Southern–  Always a talented team with a deep roster, the Tigers have fell short recently in the SWAC Tournament and they will look to avoid that in 2020. In 2019 as a Sophomores Naomi Reyes and Destiny Ricks provided a great 1-2 punch in the circle for the Tigers as the two combined for 21 wins in 2019,  they will look to continue their success in 2020.   Offensively the Tigers return a lot of talent as well in Zariah Robins, Terren Vinson,  Ebony Wiltz,  and Haley Castro.   The Tigers have one of the most talented teams in the SWAC and a lot of depth, but will need consistent play in order to bring the SWAC Championship home.

7. North Carolina Central–  Not too long ago, the Eagles were at the bottom of the MEAC.  Now they are competing amongst one of the top teams, thanks to the success of Coach Vashion Johnson.   Junior Pitcher Kiara Hurley leads the way in the circle for the Eagles after throwing 193 innings in 2019.   Look for her to continue her success in the circle in 2020, but she will need a counter part on her staff to help if the Eagles are going to win the MEAC.   Offensively the Eagles are led by Olivia Daniel and Dalika Wallace who enter 2020 as Seniors, so look for them to want to go out with a bang.   The Eagles play one of the toughest Non-Conference schedules in HBCU Softball, so look for them to be prepared once they enter MEAC play in March.

8. Howard–  Coach Tori Tyson not only had the Bison in the MEAC Tournament last year, she had them a game away from the Championship in her first year.  Look for the Bison to build off of that success in 2020.   If the Bison are going to improve their results in 2020, they are going to need better production from inside the circle and they will look for that from Sophomore Tracy Mosley and Senior Monica Thompson.  Offensively, the Bison return one of the best hitters in HBCU Softball in Sophomore Kalita Dennis.  She will also get help at the plate from Camille Navarro, Xzarria Simmons, and Trinity Gibbs.  Tyson, brings in a deep roster in 2020, with 26 listed so look for some new comers to step up in a big way and help the Bison compete for a MEAC Championship, if they are to do so though, they will need consistency in the circle.

9. Alabama A&M– Despite winning the SWAC regular season championship, the Bulldogs have yet to find success in the Tournament,  they will look to change that in 2020.  Led by one of the most talented players in HBCU Softball in Senior Shortstop, Tamia Lee-Barbadillo, she will look to continue her success in 2020.   The Bulldogs don’t return much experience in the circle in 2020,  if they can get their staff to step up in a big way then they will be poised for another run at a SWAC Championship.  Offensively, Lee-Barbadillo leads the way alongside Madison Pozzi,  with these two in the lineup the Bulldogs will find ways to score runs, but it will come down to pitching and defense for the Bulldogs success in 2020.

10. Norfolk State– Coach James Inzana’s squad now has a challenge in the MEAC Northern Division in the Howard Bison, so they will look to improve from last year in order to repeat as Northern Division Champions.   Skylar Swain returns in the circle for the Spartans as one of the top pitchers in the MEAC but she will need help and will get it from a couple of newcomers.  Offensively the Spartans are led by talented Jazzmaine Hammond, Shelby Deschamps, and Tuli Iofesa.   With the ability to score runs and have an ace pitcher, the Spartans success will rely on their defense and consistency in the circle outside of Swain.

2020 Division II HBCU Pre-Season Poll

  1. Claflin University- Coming off of a 37-19 season in 2019, it is no surprise that the Panthers land the number one spot in this years pre-season poll.  The Panthers who made a run to the CIAA Championship will look to replace departing Seniors, Kayla Cato and LaKaylin Lee.  However, the Panthers have what is arguably the best 1-2 punch in HBCU Softball in the circle with Bre’Zhay Chambers and Shaniya Thomas.   The duo combined to win 31 games as Freshmen in 2019.   Coach Kinard will have his team prepared for CIAA play as he always plays a tough non-conference schedule, but the Panthers will need their bats to step up and will be looking at all CIAA performers such as Chaston Huntly, Marion Goins, Jada Ames, and Ashley Thomas to lead the way for them.
  2. Winston-Salem State University-  The defending CIAA Champions lost key players from their team in 2019 such as Erica Davis, Destiny Snipes, Kortney Thomas, and Jasmine McCain.  The Rams will continue to compete with the Panthers of Claflin for the CIAA but will need Junior Pitcher, Tia Robinson to step up in a big way and fill the void that Erica Davis left.  Look for Daijah Chambers to continue to lead the way at the top of the lineup as she continues to get help from Shauntaja Dedecker, Aniyah Jones, and Alleigh Himes.  The Rams, led by Coach Hilliard-Gray will also play a challenging non-conference schedule to prepare them for CIAA play, look for the CIAA regular season to come down to the Rams and Panthers when they meet in Winston-Salem on March 28. 
  3. Kentucky State Univeristy-  Coach David Morton had the Thorobreds in the CIAA Championship in 2018 and then a 3rd place finish in 2018 so the Thorobreds are on the right track, but they lost key players which they will have to replace in 2020 in Paola Flores, Jittaun Thompson, Jackie Zubiate, and Natalia Bocanegra.   The Thorobreds will have to replace them and will look for Junior, Katelyn Hurley to step up in the circle and lead the way.  At the plate, Coach Morton’s squad returns big bats in Sasha Allen, Moana Pinner, Kailen Olison and Sidney Campbell.  Expect the Thorobreds to be poised and ready to make another run in the SIAC in 2020.

    4. Virginia State University-  After a 3rd place finish in the CIAA Tournament in 2019 and with the departure of Chowan, the Trojans are the team to  beat in the CIAA Northern Division.  A team that pulled a huge upset over Claflin in the tournament in 2019 returns their entire squad.  The Trojans have a good duo in the circle themselves in Seniors, Brooklynn Bilyard and Kennedy Presson.   The Trojans will look to be more consistent in 2020 and will need that at the plate from the likes of Bilyard, Presson, Samantha Cunningham, and Julia Jones.  Coach Gilbert’s squad will challenge Claflin and Winston-Salem State in the CIAA in 2020 and have great success if they can stay healthy.

    5. Lane College-  Coach Leslie Ballard has Lane College softball on the map these days.   A team that went 23-18 in 2019 only had 1 Senior on its squad.   Playing in a tough West side of the conference in the SIAC alongside Spring Hill, the Dragons will have to count on their experience in 2020 if they want to challenge the Badgers for the SIAC Crown.   In the circle the Dragons will be led by Brittany Ensley and Kayla Saul.  The Dragons who open up the season on February 21 in Missouri will need their offense to be sparked by the likes of JaiMesia Parks, Raven Shoulders, Kyra Reed, and Whitney Knighton.  The Dragons are no more the surprise team in the SIAC, so look for them to make a deep run in the SIAC Tournament.

    6. Tuskegee University-  Tuskegee returns a lot of talent in 2020, but with the loss of Coach Edward Colvin,  the Tigers will look towards new leadership in 2020 and sometimes that can be a factor, so we are anxious to see how that plays out.   Led in the circle by Jamea Lyons,  she will need to get some help from other counter parts for the Tigers to have success after the graduation of Chelsea Mowery.   Mowery was also a big loss on the offensive side, so the Tigers will need big bats like Kendra Gibbons, Myracle Hawkins, and Cecelia Tennessee to step up.   The Tigers who also play a tough non-conference schedule will look to compete heavily in the competitive SIAC West in 2020.

    7. Albany State University-  After winning the SIAC Tournament in 2018, and the SIAC Eastern Division in 2019,  the Rams surprisingly went 2 and out in last year’s SIAC Tournament in Albany, GA.   The Rams will look to get things back on track this year and will be led in the circle by Junior, Lauren Lowery after the graduation of the do it all Pitcher, Aryn McGowan.   The Rams also lost some key bats to graduation in 2019, but will look Glory Seay and Mikiayah Harris to lead the way for them in 2020.  The Rams will have a little more work cut out for themselves in the SIAC East this year as Savannah State joins.

    8. Savannah State University-  After dropping down to Division II and leaving the MEAC for the SIAC, the Tigers will look to come in right away and make some noise in the SIAC.  But the Tigers will need some newcomers to step up in a big way and it starts in the circle,  the Tigers will look to Junior, Tanisha Williams, however she only logged 62 innings in 2019 and 52 innings in 2018.   On the offensive side, the Tigers are led by Stacie Smith who was 29 of 33 in the stolen base department in 2019, so if they can get some support from the middle of their lineup to drive Smith in then the Tigers will make a run for the SIAC in 2020.

    9. Fort Valley State University-  The Wildcats of Fort Valley State were back in the SIAC Tournament in 2019 and now return experience in 2020 looking to make some more noise.  No longer a surprise to teams, Coach Jason Bryant’s squad will look towards the circle for success in 2020 led by Jenelle Cockerham and Kayla Brown.   Offensively the Wildcats return a lot of talent in Shakerra Geter, Tamani Owens, and Jahara Buggs.  The Wildcats will really challenge Albany State and Savannah State for the SIAC Eastern Division crown in 2020,  if they can find consistency while continuing to grow then they may rise as Champions.

    10. Miles College-  After a disappointing 2019 for the Golden Bears,  Coach Patrick Peasant will look to get his squad back on track in 2020.   They will need Junior Pitcher, Magen Rich to step up and lead the way in the circle.  A team that can score runs and get on base they will need that to continue and will led by Zakeirra Webb, Davis Watkins, Lydia Rodriquez, and Kristie Looney.   After missing the SIAC Tournament in 2019, Coach Peasant’s squad will be poised and ready to make some noise in the challenging SIAC West in 2020.

 

2020 Division II ALL HBCU Pre-Season Team

1st Team

P- Shaniya Thomas (Claflin)
P- Dominique Mullero (Virginia Union)
C- Sydney Campbell (Kentucky State)
1B- Whitney Knighton (Lane)
2B- Daijah Chambers (Winston-Salem State)
3B- Kendra Gibbons (Tuskegee)
SS- Zakeirra Webb (Miles)
OF- Shauntaja Dedecker (Winston-Salem State)
OF- Glorey Seay (Albany State)
OF- Stacie Smith (Savannah State)
DP- Chaston Huntly (Claflin)
Util- Makayla August (Saint Augustine’s)

2nd Team
P- Bre’Zhay Chambers (Claflin)
P- Jamea Lyons (Tuskegee)
C- Marion Goins (Claflin)
1B- Moana Pinner (Kentucky State)
2B- Jaimesia Parks (Lane)
3B- Samantha Cunningham (Virginia State)
SS- Myracle Hawkins (Tuskegee)
OF- Sahsa Allen (Kentucky State)
OF- Tamani Owens (Fort Valley State)
OF- Ashley Thomas (Claflin)
DP- Tatianna Kelly (Clark Atlanta)
Util- Brooklynn Bilyard (Virginia State)