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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Freshmen Facts: Hannah Shields

  #8 Hannah Shields
State College, PA

    Favorite Softball Memory? Pitching to my dad in the side yard of my house.

What Has Been Your Favorite Part Of DSU So Far? Meeting new friends, and memories

  Favorite Food? Mac n’ cheese

 Favorite Softball Player? Sierra Romero

  Favorite Athlete? Grayson Allen

 Favorite Movie? 13 Hours

What Is Your Dream Vacation? Tour Europe

 If You Had 3 Wishes, What Would They Be? Ability to time travel, become a billionaire, and be able to run fast(er)

 What Is The Most Interesting Thing/Fun Fact About Your Roommate? My roommate (Micaela) loves to dab especially when we sing to Justin Bieber in the car!

What Is Your Dream Career? Trauma ER Nurse

What Is A Talent You Have? I can figure skate

Monday, December 19, 2016

Freshmen Facts: Micaela Cummings

#9: Micaela Cummings
Owings, MD

Favorite Softball Memory?- My team winning 3A MD states 3 of the 4 years I was in high school.

   What Has Been Your Favorite Part Of DSU So Far?- The people that I have met here, I never thought living with 5 other girls would be so drama free and fun.

  Favorite Food?- Chicken, or anything that my mom cooks.

  Favorite Softball Player?- My superstar of a sister, Jess Cummings.

Favorite Athlete?- Dustin Pedroia

Favorite Movie?- The Blindside

What Is Your Dream Vacation?- Australia

If You Had 3 Wishes, What Would They Be?- 1. To be invisible whenever I want so I can spy on people. 2. To be able to teleport places, as I am not a very good driver. 3. Of course, to have more wishes!

 What Is The Most Interesting Thing/Fun Fact About Your Roommate?- Hannah pretends she is listening to hard core rap to seem cool, but really jams to Justin Bieber every day. 

  What Is Your Dream Career?- Environmental Engineer.

 What Is A Talent You Have?- Making people laugh, especially when it is not an appropriate time for a joke.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

2016 MEAC Challenge Recap

Hornets wrapped up the fall season with the first annual MEAC Challenge, a 4 day test of strength, endurance, speed, competitiveness, and teamwork. The team was split into two teams, the upperclassmen vs the underclassmen with each team including one sophomore. The upperclassmen lead by Sophomore Alexis Goldsby named themselves Jackson's Angels, while the underclassmen lead by freshman Jordan Casey named themselves Hitfaced. The MEAC Challenge included different obstacles, task and challenges that required each team think strategically, formulate and implement action plans that would give their team the best chance for success.  They were also responsible for decided who would compete in each event. Here is the recap of each day:


On Monday we kicked off our week in the weight room with testing - power clean, front squat, bench press, vertical jump, and the 10 yard sprint. This day was all about the players individual improvement. It required each individual to fight for every inch to achieve a new personal best to win points for your team. Both teams did an excellent job, showing great improvement in their numbers from the beginning of the year. However, Hitfaced edged out Jackson's Angels by 75 points to take the early lead. The overall winners of the day was Desiree Moreno with an overall improvement of 111 pounds and Sabrina Quarles who added 3.9 inches to her vertical and dropped .35 seconds on her sprint. Congratulations!!

Day 1 Score:
Jackson's Angels:850
Hitfaced: 925


Tuesday began our team events. Each team nominated two players to represent their team in each event. With four competitors in each event, points were given out for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place. The morning started on the football field with a slight rain doing a 100 yard prowler push and a 100 yard sled pull. The teams then moved inside to compete in a towel hold hang, plate holds, a battle rope challenge, and a v-up challenge. It began to seem like a run away for Hitfaced for the day, until Jackson's Angels picked up 150 points in team Dodgeball and pulled within 25 points.

Day 2 Score:
Jackson's Angels: 1700

Congratulations to the winners of the day:

Towel Hang: Sabrina
Plate Hold: Kaleigh
Battle Rope: Khaliyah
V-Ups: Tara
Prowler Push: Desiree
Sled Pull: Jasmine


Wednesday was all about teamwork in several different relay events. Each team had to work together to earn their points. In the first section of the morning, Hitfaced ran away with the first 600 points winning the Prowler push relay, the tire flip relay, and the sand bag relay. Jackson's Angels found a way to again come from behind again and sweep the sand pit tug of war event and steal the next 600 points to tie the day and still remain within 25 points of Hitfaced. This meant that the winner would be determined by day four, the obstacle course.

Day 3 Score:
Jackson's Angels: 2300


Everything would come down to today. The winner was determined by head to head competition: which ever team finished the obstacle course first. The race consisted of 11 different events. Two members of each team had to complete one obstacle before the next pair of team members could move on. The events consisted of the following:
100 yard suicide, partner tire flips, 50 push ups, sled pulls, bear crawls, 50 sit ups, sled push, 400 meter run, 50 squats, army crawl, and 100 yard dyno ball throws.
Each team gave it everything they had, but in the end Hitfaced came out on top and won the week.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Freshmen Facts: Desiree Moreno

#22 Desiree Moreno
  Carson, CA

Favorite Softball Memory? Winning State Championship against our cross town rivals.

     What Has Been Your Favorite Part of DSU So Far? Making new friends and experiencing a new  environment on the east coast.

Favorite Food? Shrimp

 Favorite Softball Player? Jen Schroeder

  Favorite Athlete? Yasiel Puig

 Favorite Movie? White Chicks

 What Is Your Dream Vacation? Costa Rica

          If You Had 3 Wishes, What Would They Be? Be Beyoncè, have an endless amount of money, be                                        healthy for the rest of my life

  What Is The Most Interesting Thing/Fun Fact About Your Roommate? Jasmine is Rihanna’s biggest fan.

 What Is Your Dream Career? Physical Therapist

What Is A Talent You Have? Braiding Hair

Monday, December 5, 2016

Freshmen Facts: Jasmine Melgoza

#18  Jasmine Melgoza
 Huntington Beach, CA
  Second Base/Third Base

  Favorite Softball Memory? Winning 18u PGF Platinum Championship

  What Has Been Your Favorite Part of DSU So Far? Meeting new people and living on the East Coast

Favorite Food? Tacos

 Favorite Softball Player? Jessica Mendoza

  Favorite Athlete? Matt Kemp

 Favorite Movie? Miss Congeniality 1 & 2

 What Is Your Dream Vacation? Go to the Bahamas 

 If You Had 3 Wishes, What Would They Be? 1. Meet Rihanna 2. Infinite amount of money 3. Have telekinesis 

    What Is The Most Interesting Thing/Fun Fact About Your Roommate? Desiree is BeyoncĂ©’s biggest fan.

 What Is Your Dream Career? Pediatric Nurse

What Is A Talent You Have? Photography 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Freshmen Facts: Jordan Casey

#7 Jordan Casey

Favorite Softball Memory?  Playing on the hall of fame stadium field with my teammates.

     What Has Been Your Favorite Part of DSU So Far? Meeting and getting to know other people.

Favorite Food? Chicken

 Favorite Softball Player?  Kaila Hunt

  Favorite Athlete? Dustin Pedroia

 Favorite Movie? G.I. Jane

 What Is Your Dream Vacation? Australia

          If You Had 3 Wishes, What Would They Be? a.        Cure cancer b.  be wealthy and able to provide for my family c.        Reach all of my goals in life

  What Is The Most Interesting Thing/Fun Fact About Your Roommate? Kaleigh drives a mustang.

 What Is Your Dream Career? FBI Special Agent

What Is A Talent You Have?  I can skateboard.

2017 Early Signees

Congratulations to our newest Hornets who signed over the last week. Welcome to the family!!

Alyssa Diaz is a shortstop/outfielder from Fontana, California. She currently attends Montclair High School and plays for Batbusters Mauga. Alyssa will be majoring in Mathematics Education.

Taliyah Miles is a left handed pitcher from Sacramento, California. She is currently attending Sheldon High School. Taliyah currently pitches for the California Grapettes. She will be majoring in Movement Science at DSU.

Vanessa Barron is a 3rd baseman from Bakersfield, California where she attends Stockdale High School. She currently plays for the So Cal Choppers. Vanessa plans on majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology.

We are so excited for all of you to get here next August!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

DSU Softball Team Fall 2016
Thanksgiving is just a few days away and our team is gearing up to celebrate the holiday with their family and friends. This is a time when local players welcome our west coast players into there homes, as they often do not have the opportunity to travel home. We are so thankful to have a group of young women that truly care for each other. They have big hearts for each other and truly exemplify what it means to be family, better yet what it means to be sisters. As we celebrate thanksgiving we have asked the players to share what they are thankful for this year.

"I am grateful for my dreams because they push me to do and accomplish things that I never would have been able to do without them. I am grateful for my family. For my parents who taught me to dream. My siblings who help me realize my dreams. My friends who share my dreams with me. I am grateful for being able to live a healthy successful life and experience things I've never though possible. Finally, I am grateful for meeting so many people who have enriched my life."- Sabrina Quarles OF

"The most important thing I'm thankful for is my family and the love and support they have given me my whole life and I'm also thankful for the opportunity to play D1 softball at DSU and continue my education."- Kaleigh Berry OF

"I am thankful for my family and my health and my friends."- Vanessa Washington C/DH

"I am thankful for my loving family, life long friends, and the opportunities that have been granted to me."- Khaliyah Flournory OF

"I am thankful for my loving and supportive family as well as having the opportunity to play Division 1 softball on the east coast."- Jasmine Melgoza 3B/2B

We also asked our very dedicated graduate assistants what they were thankful for this holiday season. This is what they had to say.

"I am thankful for the opportunity to work with an awesome team."- Coach Simon

"I am most thankful for my family who supports me from so far away and also my friends who keep my life so exhilarating."- Coach Chloe

Thank you so much for your continued support of the Delaware State University Softball Program. We are all very thankful for each and every one of you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Freshmen Facts: Kaleigh Berry

 #5 Kaleigh Berry
Centreville, VA

 Favorite Softball Memory?  Winning the Conference championship sophomore year and making it back to the championship junior and senior year.

     What Has Been Your Favorite Part of DSU So Far? Making new friends and meeting such diverse people.

Favorite Food? Steak & Sushi

 Favorite Softball Player?  Shae Braxton

  Favorite Athlete? Odell Beckham Jr.

 Favorite Movie? Finding Nemo

 What Is Your Dream Vacation? Puerto Rico

          If You Had 3 Wishes, What Would They Be? 1. Meet Demi Lovato 2. Have as much money as I could ever want/need­­   3. To have 3 more wishes

     What Is The Most Interesting Thing/Fun Fact About Your Roommate? Jordan has a half sleeve and is quiet on the outside, but low key likes to pretend she is a superstar in the car.

 What Is Your Dream Career? Work for the FBI

What Is A Talent You Have? I can shake my eyes really fast.

2016 Season Wrap Up

This season has been one for the record books! The Hornets had a lot of ups and downs through the season, but persevered through it all together and became a family.

DSU lead the MEAC in most offensive categories such as batting average (.331), slugging percentage (.484), runs scored (286), hits (405), RBI (251), doubles (73), home runs (33) and total bases (591).  Pitching wise, the Hornets rank first in the conference in lowest ERA (3.56), hits allowed (305), runs allowed (186), earned runs allowed (135) and homers allowed (21). The Hornets tied a program best 14 game winning streak set last year and finished (10-1) at home. 

Nicole Gazzola finished her career on a high note earning a spot on the NFCA Second Team Mid- Atlantic Team for the second time in her career. Gazzola set new DSU single-season marks for most hits (89) and runs (63).  Her hits and runs totals also led the MEAC, in addition to tallying a conference-best 37 stolen bases.  Nationally, Gazzola finished with the second highest batting average (.497), whereas her runs and stolen bases per game averages ranked fourth (1.31) and 10th (0.77), respectively. Nicole also received an All-MEAC section for the 4th time in her career. She also became the program leader in hits (292), runs (196) and at bats (667), along with becoming only the second player in Hornet history to eclipse the century mark in stolen bases (101).

Sandy Hawthorne also found herself in the record books this season. She is now the program single season leader in RBI's (65) a record that has held since 2005. On April 6, she became DSU's all-time leader in doubles. She also earned a spot on the All-MEAC 1st team.

Tara Tursellino posted a perfect MEAC record during the regular season to be 8-0. She became the 4th pitcher in program history to amass 300- career strikeouts. Tursellino was also name to the MEAC All-2nd Team.

Chloe Oro lead the NCAA with 0 Strikeouts on the year. Oro also earned All-MEAC 2 Team honors.

 Vanessa Washington earned All-MEAC 2nd Team honors, while Rochelle Sablay earned a spot on the All-MEAC 3rd team.

Nicole Brock (12-5), lead the MEAC in lowest ERA (2.31), along with ranking second in wins (12).  Brock also has allowed the third fewest earned runs (37) in the conference, highlighted by surrendering just seven in MEAC action.  Her conference dominance also included a 0.92 ERA with a 7-1 record. She earned a MEAC Pitcher of the week honor.

Second year Head Coach Amber Jackson earned MEAC Coach of the Year. Jackson lead the Hornets to the highest number of wins in the conference and finished 5 games ahead of second place Norfolk State.

The Hornets finished the season by placing 3rd in the MEAC Tournament in Ormond Beach, Florida. Despite falling short of the ultimate goal, we are very proud of these ladies and are excited for what the next season holds.

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.

Subscribe to the blog to keep up with the Hornets behind the scenes.

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