Your inside access to the Delaware State University softball team. Posts from coaches, players and support staff.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Letter to DSU Softball

Four more weeks until Conference tournament, three weeks until graduation, two weeks until the last day of class, time is flying by. The seniors enjoyed a sweet victory against conference foe, Hampton University on their Senior Day, this past weekend. We are fortunate to have a special group of six seniors and have asked them to write a letter to the future athletes of DSU Hornet Softball about their time here.

Dear Future Hornets,

   Congrats on achieving the goal of making it to Division 1 softball.  This is a unique experience that few will have and you will never forget. Do not take it for granted because it goes by fast.  Here are a few tips to survive being on a Division 1 softball program. 

1.  Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Your body will be put through very demanding tasks and you will experience a lot of changes. If you want to make it to your senior year with your body still working for you vs against you, it is essential you do this.

2. Do the winter and summer workout programs that you are given. This will make conditioning easier and more bearable when you get back. It will not be easy. 

3. Naps and sleep will be your best friend. So are alarm clocks!!!

4. Manage your time wisely and avoid procrastination. When you procrastinate, you get overwhelmed which leads to poor academic performances. 

5. GO TO CLASS and build strong relationships with your teachers. This is important, especially in season when you have to miss class due to games and travel.   

6. Enjoy these years.  College goes by fast. Make friends outside of softball, have fun. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, its the only way you will grow. 

7. Keep working hard to achieve your goals no matter what.  Softball is a game of failures, but look at the positives and stay focused on the progress over the outcome.  

8. This is not travel ball. 

  • In travel ball you could easily play seven games or more in a weekend. In college two games in one day can feel like you played seven. 
  • In travel ball, everyone got the opportunity to play cause it was about you getting seen to play, in college you have to earn it. Nothing is given to you, you have to fight for everything you want to accomplish. 
  • In travel ball, you may have been the best on your team, but when you get to college you will learn that everyone's talent level is fairly equal. So you have to figure out what it is that is going to make you stand out to earn a a spot. 

9. Things will not always go your way and you will fail at times, and IT IS OK. Learn from it and keep moving forward. 

10.  It doesn’t matter how good you are, it will take everyone on your team to win.  Even the best hitters strike out and the best pitchers get bombs hit off of them. Rely on and trust your teammates to have your back and be there for you, because it will take you going all out for them. Your teammates will become your sisters. 

11. You will experience the worst and best days of your life.  College is the like the scariest yet best roller coaster you’ve even been on. You regret getting on it at first, but when it's over, you’re going to want to ride it again. Enjoy the ride.  

The Senior Class of 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016

Senior Spotlight: Nkili Matthews-Blue

Nkili Matthews-Blue has been a big part of the team from the beginning. She has been a team leader, constant hard worker, and phenomenal teammate. She has spent her career at DSU in the Outfield. We took some time to sit down with her and get to know the real Nkili.

Rapid Fire Questions:

Favorite Food?: All food
Favorite Color?: Kili's Color ( blueish, tealish, turquoise)
Favorite Softball Player?: Natasha Watley
First Softball Team Name?: Pirates
Favorite Sport Other than Softball?: Basketball
Dream car?: Cadalliac Escalade
Hobbies?:Sleeping, Eating, Binge watching Netflix and Hulu
How long have you known your husband?: 10 years
Favorite Movie?: Dreamgirls
Pet's Name?: Apollo
Hometown: Waldorf, MD

What is your favorite memory of DSU?
Being a part of a growing Movement Science program that's headed in a great direction.

What's next for you after graduation?
After graduation, I plan on FINALLY moving back home with my husband. I have enrolled in an EMT/ Paramedic program in Jacksonville, North Carolina. I plan on working for a year and then attending a Physician Assistant School.

What is your favorite memory of the Softball Program?
My favorite memory is playing next to Nikki in right field because we click. It's hard to explain but we have a connection where we know who can get to which ball and work to our strengths.

My junior year we stayed at the beach during MEAC championships. It was my birthday and Coach Jackson made it a really special day for me.The only memory that would top that would be winning a MEAC championship.

Describe your teammates in three words.
Funny, Unique, and Lovable

What makes this program unique?
The young women on this team is what makes us unique, no where else on any other program will you find a group of young women who are soooooo different, yet we are able to put our own personalities and beliefs aside to accomplish a common goal.  When we're all clicking, it's something special, it's an awesome feeling that I can't describe.

How does it feel to be married and in college?
It's extremely hard at times especially with him being in the military and 4 states away at all times.  It takes a lot of communication, trust and patience but I wouldn't change it for the world.  Its a unique experience  and a sacrifice that I had to make in order for our futures to be the best that they could be.

What was your favorite part of your wedding?
The ceremony was my favorite part.  We were previously married in a courthouse so my uncle preformed the ceremony.  It was windy, we had to repeat the vow lines a couple of times and our unity candle wouldn't light, but it was hilarious and beautiful; perfect for us.

Whats the best part about being from Maryland?
THE FOOD!!!! Crabs, Mumbo Sauce, Old Bay I LOVE it all.  Also, being 25 minutes outside of D.C. so I make the trip often to eat in the city and go to the museums.

If you had one piece of advice for Future Hornets, what would it be?
If I had any advice for future hornets it would be to take care of yourself mentally, and physically. This game takes a toll on your body like nothing that you've ever experienced and if you do not take the proper steps to take care of yourself, you won't last.  Also, always always always work hard and never get discouraged or allow others to influence who you are negative.

We asked some of her teammates to tell us what they like the best about Kili.

What's it like being co-captain with NKili?

Brock:  I love Nkili, she's a beautiful person, and I love hearing about her life. She makes being a captain enjoyable because she takes initiative. I admire her because she goes after her dreams and has a good head on her shoulders.

What's your favorite part about Nkili?

Tara: My favorite part about Kili is that she is a hard worker, very funny, and a great captain. She is always determined to get better on and off the field.

What's it like being roommates with Nkili?

Nikki: It's great, we grunt past each other every morning to say hi. It's nice to go on adventures with her.

A Preseason Review

After the first month of play, the Hornets hold a 7-12 record. With lots of games to go, we checked in with the players to get their view on the first weekends out.

Nicole Gazzola has been off to a hot start this season batting .442 and stealing 17 bases. Gazzola also made school history at the Blue Hen Blast tournament by breaking the all time hits record previously held by Catrina Ansbach. Her 225th hit came on a bunt single in the final game of the weekend against the University of Delaware. When asked what breaking the record meant to her, she responded, "I think it's kind of cool. It was unexpected. It's an honor to break a 9 year old record."

After being asking how she felt when she found out that she broke the record, she said, "I didn't realize it until after the game. During the game I was more concerned about getting base runners on and scoring runs. After the game I was really excited and happy that I got to enjoy that moment with my teammates and family."

Sophomore Vanessa Washington had a standout freshman year winning her the MEAC Rookie of the Year Award. Coming into this year, we asked her "What is the biggest difference between your freshman year and this year?" Washington replied saying," The biggest difference is that I feel more confident and know a lot more of what's going on. I also feel the need to go all out for our seniors and do whatever it takes so they can have the most memorable season ever. I feel more confident in my abilities knowing how hard we all have worked this season.

Freshman Outfielder Sabrina Quarles has made the most of her time on the team so far, when asked about her experience, this is what she had to say.

What has been your favorite part of the season so far?

"My favorite part of the season has been being able to impact my team in a positive way both on offense and defense."

How does playing in college compare to playing in high school and travel ball?

"College softball demands much more of your time and willingness to be the best. The game does not know who the better team is. The team that puts their heart and will into every pitch will win."

We also checked in with Freshman Pitcher Alexis Goldsby to see what her experiences were so far this season.

What has the first month of the season been like for you?

"The first month of the season has been an eye opener with trying to manage my studies and being on top of my game to be the best I can be."

How did it feel stepping out on the field for the first time?

"It felt really good to step out on the field knowing that I can contribute to my team."

Going into MEAC play, we spent some time with the seniors Kili Matthews and Nicole Gazzola gathering their thoughts about going into MEAC's for the last time.

When asked what made this group of seniors special, together they said,"We are the last ones from a freshman group of 12 (The Surviving 6) we stuck through adversity and a coaching change. We have had each other through it all."

They continued to talk about their goal for this year. "We want to unite the team to accomplish one goal; WIN MEAC's. We want to leave a legacy for future Hornets".

Going into MEAC play for the last time is bittersweet. MEAC play is an unique experience that not everyone gets to experience.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Hornets Softball Teams Up With Army ROTC

On the first week back from Winter Break, the DSU Softball Team encountered their first challenge of the season (The DSU Army ROTC). These two Hornet organizations teamed up for Basic Training which focused on team cohesion, excellence, leadership, and mental toughness. The girls learned a lot about themselves, each other and what it takes to accomplish a common goal together. Tasks throughout the week challenged them in their ability to fight through adversity, problem solve, communicate and hold each other accountable.  Each day held a different set of challenges that the Hornets had to overcome together. Below is an account of their adventure.

Day 1: D-Day

Day 1 was a shock to the Hornets. None of them knew what to expect or what was going to happen. The whole day was used to push the players past what they thought they were capable of. The Army Cadets taught the team basic military formations, how to stretch to a cadence, and other military commands.  They were pushed physically through a series of exercises that would challenge their endurance, focus and resilience.

When asked about her expectations, senior third baseman, Jordan Stamps responded "I expected it to be challenging because they are the army and nothing is easy about that. I expected to be pushed hard and treated as one of them".

"After Day 1 I realized that I had more mental strength than I thought I had.The ROTC cadets forced me to get out of my comfort zone" said junior pitcher, Tara Tursellino.

Day 2: Mental Endurance 

Day 2 posed a brand new challenge for the Hornets. Not only were they still adjusting to the regimen of ROTC, but also endure the harsh cold weather. The girls stepped up to the plate and faced the cold and the physical exercises head on. Starting with a 100 yard suicide the girl dominated the day, completing a series of team pushups, more sprints, 150 team setups and more. The Hornets and cadets learned the importance of pulling their own weight, how to pick up the slack of others, and that no one can be left behind.

Commenting on the day, senior Rocky Sablay stated "I learned that when times are tough you have your teammates there to help you out and encourage you, but you also have to do the same for them". Sophomore, Jess Shalongo added that "moving forward, I know that my teammates are relying on me to get the job done, therefore I cannot let them down"

Day 3: Communication

Day 3 required the Hornets to rely heavily on communication. Nicole Brock and Nicole Gazzola were up first, and were faced with the challenge of leading the cadets through military formation and stretching in cadence. Though the pressure was on, when it was their moment to step up and lead they endured and overcame adversity. The team then worked in groups to accomplish three different tasks. 1. Tug of war against the Army (Softball won). 2. Tire Flips across the field.  3 Push a 2.5 ton truck across the field. The team a lot about pulling their weight, that each task would require all of them to be all in and committed to accomplishing the task. If one let up, then it would make it impossible to complete the task. They learned about momentum, communication, and being relentless in their pursuit of accomplishing the goal.

Freshmen Sabrina Quarles had this to say after day three. "After the first two days, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it would be tough and we would have to work together as a team in order to succeed and have a successful day during training".

Additionally, transfer sophomore, Haley Jones said, "I learned that it can be really motivating to uplift each other when struggling or even being successful. Also, communication is essential when working in groups to help each other out when giving directions or leading".

Day 4: Competitive Team Building 

Day 4 required senior catcher Sandy Hawthorne and junior pitcher Tara Tursellino to command the team through the stretches while giving cadences.The Hornets got off to a slow start this morning and learned that if they were going to dominate the day, they would have to focus on taking it one step at a time, as exhaustion started to creep in. As the cadets led the team through a series of exercises the team learned that together they could endure anything and the true meaning of mental toughness. The day ended with a competitive game of Ultimate Football. The Lady Hornets persevered and came through with the come from behind victory over the ROTC cadets. The Hornets worked on their competitive edge along with their leadership skills to complete the day motivated and ready to finish the week off strong.

Senior outfielders, Nicole Gazzola and Nkili Matthews-Blue were asked how they thought the team was handling basic training and what improvements have they made. Gazzola replied, "by day four, I think we were more mentally prepared and mentally tough since we knew what the previous days were like. We were able to grow from the experience and past mistakes. We also knew that it was going to take the whole team's effort and support to accomplish the tasks". "I think by day four we were comfortable and much more cohesive as a team than on day one. We grew closer and knew the only way we were going to get through it all was if we did it together" said Matthews-Blue.

Day 5: Team Building: Putting It All Together

On Saturday, the team was put to their final challenges. They were given five different problem solving tasks to complete for time.  The first challenge involved communication and trust. They had to select one leader to lead their blindfolded teammates to build a shelter that would cover one of them with sticks, rope, and a poncho. Each group decided to build their shelter a little differently, but all succeeded in making their shelter.

The second challenge would test their physical and mental strength, trust in each other, their resolve to finish and ability to support, motivate and encourage or push each other. Each team had to lift one another up and fasten them to a rope. While hanging upside down, each person had to take turns pulling themselves across the rope from one tree to the other. This task would be the most difficult task the Hornets faced that day, but even in adversity, the team came together and motivated each other to cross the rope.

The next two challenges required then to be creative and think outside the box to accomplish the task within the given time frame. One required the group to have one player hold an "ammo box" and traverse a "lake" without falling in. The team sacrificed themselves to make a human bridge for the ammo carrier to walk across. The second resulted in the players standing inside a tire, armed with a grappling hook as the attempted to collect objects scattered around the field.

The fifth and final station required strength, communication, and problem solving skills. Each team member had a rope attached to very heavy "toxic waste". Each team had to get the waste out of a tire container, carry it across the field and get it into the ending tube. Again each team had different ideas of how the get the waste from one side to the other. This day allowed the Hornets to demonstrate all of the skills they learned over the week to become one successful unit.

"The toughest challenge was the tree bridge because it was physically difficult to do". - Vanessa Washington

"The biggest challenge for me was not knowing the entire plan, just doing what they told me."- Nicole Brock

"My group learned to put the team before yourself during times of adversity".- Khaliyah Flournory

"The biggest lesson the team learned over the week was that in order to succeed at anything, we must work together as a whole".- Danielle Velez

This week challenged the girls in ways they have never seen before. They rose to the challenge and succeeded in everything they tried. They were willing to learn and give their all for their teammates.

"I'm very proud of the girls.  I wanted our players to be put in a unknown, uncomfortable, and stressful environment, one that would require them to come together as a team, to overcome and endure whatever comes their way. The ROTC created that environment and more. As a team we made huge strides towards the ultimate goal which is for them to have the courage to pursue and achieve excellence as a family, as Hornet sisters" Coach Jackson.

Congratulations to the following Hornets who were voted as team Captains.

Senior- Nkili Matthews-Blue (OF)
Junior- Nicole Brock (P,SS)


Junior- Tara Tursellino (P)
Junior- Danielle Velez (2nd,OF)

Be on the look out for more updates on your DSU Hornets Softball Team

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NCAA Releases Division I Softball RPI Rankings making Delaware State 118th

On March 24, 2014, the NCAA released the first RPI rankings for the 2014 season.  The Lady Hornets were ranked 118th.  118th is the highest in the program's history as well as the highest for Delaware State Athletics.  To see more, check out the NCAA's Website.

This is after a weekend at Home in the Sean Savage Tournament with Central Connecticut State University and Cornell University and double header versus Mount Saint Mary's University.   The Lady Hornets finished the weekend 5-1 and the tournament 4-0 making them the tournament champions. 

Not only are the Hornets ranked 118th, but pitching staff is ranked 13th nationally in lowest ERA with Tara Tursellino ranked 18th and Vanessa Ciocatto 44th.  Tursellino is also ranked 10th in saves and Cioccatto is ranked 29th in Division I.  Chloe Oro has become one of the toughest to strike out with being ranked 29th. Nicole Gazzola is also ranked 2nd in the the nation in sacrifice hits per game. 

The Delaware State Softball team will be opening up their MEAC play this weekend with Hampton University at Home!  Come out and support the Lady Hornets as they begin their fight for a MEAC Championship!

DSU Spring

Lady Hornets take on Spring 

Even though the weather has been difficult this Spring, the DSU softball team has found a way to get some games in! After the flight to Arizona was cancelled due to the snow that hit the East Coast, the Lady Hornets were able to find an open tournament at East Carolina University!

They were able to take a bus down to Greenville, North Carolina and play 4 games against Drexel University, Seton Hall University, and East Carolina University.  They finished 2-2 after the weekend!

The Delaware Express and bus driver, Eric Harding, supporting Delaware State Softball

The Lady Hornets then traveled to Norfolk State University and played 3 more games.  Wagner College, La Salle University, and Fairleigh Dickinson University were the opponents, and after finishing the tournament 3-0 the Delaware State Hornets were the tournament champions.

Mother Nature tried to prevent the DSU softball team from playing games again with the cancellation of the George Washington University game as well as the Towson University tournaments.  However, the DSU coaches were able to find another open tournament at Longwood University.  At Longwood, the Lady Hornets were challenged by Longwood University, University of Rhode Island, and University of Delaware.  With beautiful weather in Farmville, Virginia, they finished 2-2.

After all the traveling, the Lady Hornets were able to come home and play in the Hornet Invitational against Lehigh University and University of Hartford.  Due to field renovations, the Lady Hornets were unable to participate at DSU but had community help with Wesley College and Dover High School.  After the tournament, the team finished 3-2! With the DSU pitching staff and defense giving up only 3 runs the entire weekend!  After about a month and a half of playing, the Lady Hornets are 10-6 
and are looking for more wins at the Sean Savage Tournament that will be held at DSU Softball Field with Central Connecticut State University and Cornell University.  

Even  with being busy getting ready for the Spring Season, the DSU Softball team was able to participate in the Delaware State University's Founders day on February 25, 2014 at Loockerman Hall. They were able to meet some past Alumni who lived in Loockerman Hall. 

For the Spring Season, the Lady Hornets upgraded to new bats and helmets! 

The Lady Hornets are also selling Team Posters for $5, Visors for $18, Ear Warmers for $12, and Hats for $16.  Please contact Hannah Fulk at for more information.  All funds will benefit the DSU Softball Team!

The DSU Softball Program is having an Alumni Weekend April 12th-13th. The actual DSU Softball Alumni Game will be on April 13, 2014 after our game against Coppin State. Please remember that this event is for all DSU Softball Alumni that have graduated from DSU or exhausted their 4 years of eligibility at DSU. We would like to encourage all alumni to come to this event. Please RSVP to Coach Reid if you plan on attending via email
Patty Brown, Jojo Shields, Nicole Demers, Leslie Pleasanton

Come check out a game of the Lady Hornets and look at the Website for game dates and locations!

Friday, February 7, 2014

DSU Prospect Camp

Delaware State Softball's 2014 Prospect Camp

On February 1st, 2014, the Lady Hornets hosted a Prospect Camp for 46 future Lady Hornets.
The DSU coaches and players instructed campers on what it takes to be a future Hornet.  The athletes were evaluated on their hitting, fielding, throwing, running, and pitching skills.  Not only were the athletes able to work with the softball staff, they were also able to work with Delaware State University's Strength and Conditioning Staff, Ashley Braam and Jen Salgado.  They were able to take a campus tour with present Hornets and learn more about campus as well.   Athletes from across the country and different ages were able to visit and participate in the camp.  

The Delaware State Softball Team and Coaches appreciate all those who were able to come out and participate!  We want to say


We hope to see you again at the next camp! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Delaware State Softball team had a little fun this morning with Halloween.  The Coaching Staff sent them on a little Scavenger Hunt.


2013 – 2014

 DSU Softball Team

The rules of the scavenger hunt were:
- 8 clues
- Each team was given a clue by either Coach Jordan or Coach Hannah 
- Each team had to find their clue and then send a picture to their designated Coach 
- The first team to get al 8 clues wins
Team 1 included:

Nkili Matthews

Chloe Oro

Jessica Madrid

Morgan Hobbs

Tara Tursellino

Vanessa Ciocatto

Sam Gross 
Coach Jordan


Team 1 was our winning team with making it to Chick-Fil-A 1st

Rachel Meagley

Rochelle Sablay

Jordan Stamps

Nicole Gazzola

Sandy Hawthorne

Danielle Velez

Taylor Brummell

Coach Hannah



The team was then rewarded with breakfast from Chick-Fil-A as well as an early Christmas present.