Claflin Pitchers Face Major Test Against West Florida In Opening Round


Lyndale Morley



Claflin Sports Information


Orangeburg, S.C. – Success in any type of double-elimination baseball tournament requires decent pitching.  In most cases, pitching plays the most significant role in determining a team’s faith.

Claflin University Baseball Head Coach James Randall is well aware of the importance of an effective pitching staff heading into its NCAA Division II South Regional opening game. The Panthers will be one of seven teams vying for the coveted title, starting Thursday (May 19) at Tampa University Baseball Field in Tampa, Fla.

The regional championship game is slated for Monday (May 23).

Claflin, 24-27 on the season, and host Tampa will be joined in the field by West Florida, Nova Southeastern, Delta State, Lynn, and West Georgia.

The Panthers, the No. 7 seeded team, will face No. 2 seeded West Florida (33-15) at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Randall’s pitching staff will enter the postseason tournament well-rested. The last competition for the Panthers hurlers was nearly three weeks ago in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) tournament.  It was there, the Panthers pitchers held their own in leading Claflin to it’s first-ever SIAC championship. The Panthers edged Stillman 8-7 in a thrilling extra innings contest en route to the win.

“Pitching has been a key for us this season, especially down the stretch,” Randall said. “During that span, we had some productive performances late in the season and at the SIAC tournament. Hopefully, our pitchers can continue that trend in the South Region.”

“In a double-elimination tournament, you need a good effort from your pitchers, whether you’re ahead or behind.  We have at least 14 pitchers on our roster, which I feel a plus.”

The Panthers did an outstanding job in the SIAC tournament, holding four opponents to 32 hits, an average of eight per game, and 19 earned runs.

Randall is hoping for a similar performance against a hard-hitting West Florida team.  The Argonauts is batting .305 for the season with 33 home runs, 300 runs and a .346 on-base-percentage.  With the aggressiveness at the plate, West Florida batters have struck out 240 times.

Randall will counter with a group led by Lyndale Morley, Jamal Devine, Dillon Parker, Keamond Eison and Emmanuel Mitchell.

Morley and Parker leads the team with five wins each.

It was Morley that shined at the SIAC tournament, pitching a complete game in a 9-6 win over Stillman to advance to the championship game. Morley fanned eight batters. For his pitching and offensive production at the plate, Morley was named the most outstanding player of the tournament.

For the season, Morley pitched at 56.1 innings and recorded 38 strikeouts, most on the team. He also had five compete games.

Devine host the best wining-percentages with four wins in five decisions. He has a 4.66 ERA, which leads the team.

Parker had a solid performance in the championship game, pitching the final six innings. He gave up only four hits over that distance and struck out six.

Eison, 4-2 on the season, winner of his last four outings, posted an impressive outing in Claflin 15-4 rout of Tuskegee University. He held the Tuskegee batters to four hit over six innings.
Another big gun for the Panthers has been the consistency of Emanuel Mitchell. A spot starter and relief specialist, Mitchell has appeared in 15 appearance in game, earning a 2-1 record along with one save. He had a 3.96 ERA.

In a key season-end series against Kentucky State, Mitchell allowed just a pair of hits in six innings of work. Claflin won the contest 4.0.

If successful, Claflin will advance to Friday’s winner bracket against either Nova Southeastern or West Georgia at 7 p.m. A loss would pit the Panthers against the loser of the same game at 11 a.m.

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