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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