Black College Nines takes a look at all the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) “small school” division baseball programs as we summarize each team’s 2017 year-to-date mid-season performance.
Albany State University
2017 Mid-Season Record: 4-15
Albany State hired head coach Scott Hemmings in his first year at the Division II level. As the season progresses, ASU must improve on current team (.187) batting average. Pitching is suspect, 8.62 earned run average. Appears to be playing for the conference rather than the entire season.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 12-6
Benedict’s well balanced team at the plate and on the mound. Speed, fielding, pitching depth and team chemistry. Besides the bat of David White, Jr., Andrew McCoy (.486), (2) home runs and (12) runs batted in, Armando Valentin (.455) (3) home runs, and (20) runs batted in. Overall team batting average .370.
Bluefield State College
2017 Mid-Season Record: 6-11
Big Blue moved from the NCAA Division II level to the NAIA, expected much more in their move, must improve on current team (.282) batting average. Pitching is suspect, appears good at times around the plate. Team can make some noise toward seasons’ end.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 6-19
The Panthers were expected to compete for an SIAC championship in 2017 with a veteran ball club returning seven of its nine starters from last year’s NCAA Regional playoff appearance. The team lacks hitting and producing runs. As many of SIAC baseball conference teams, this team is suited for SIAC conference play if the pitching can turn things around.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 2-12
Pitching and receiving half of Selma University’s 2016 roster was supposed to have an immediate impact after working hard during fall ball but the entire pitching staff and position players has become a liability.
Edward Waters College
2017 Mid-Season Record: 18-14
Big things expected in 2017 for a club that returned its entire roster. However, 12 losses are a direct results of multiple fielding errors and stranded runners in scoring position. So far, EWC has been surprisingly inconsistent, but is still potentially a post-season caliber ballclub.
Florida Memorial University
2017 Mid-Season Record: 9-19
Playing very well this season under new head coach Florentino Burgos who has guided the team to more wins this season than last year (9). Beat HBCU Baseball small school No. 3 rank long time foe Edward Waters. This is supposed to be a rebuilding year, they are playing some good baseball. Burgos is getting top recruits to stay home.
Harris-Stowe State University
2017 Mid-Season Record: 19-9
Head coach CJ Bilbrey has the Hornets off to the best start in programs history. First-ever No. 1 ranking in Black College Nines HBCU Baseball Top 10 small school poll. Playing in the American Midwest Conference (AMC), one of the top conferences in the NAIA. Solid pitching and hitting building a 19-9 record.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 6-10
This squad has not gotten going yet. They can play with the top Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) members. Offensively, the Rams, when they start swinging the bats, will put pressure on the defense.
Jarvis Christian University
2017 Mid-Season Record: 16-17
The Bulldogs have yet to play their best, but at 16-17, they will look to continue building with a combination of speed, athleticism and defense to continue their success. Pitching needs to come around if they expect to challenge in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC).
Kentucky State University
2017 Mid-Season Record: 7-20
So far in 2017, Kentucky State lacks consistent hitting, pitching and fielding. With conference games ahead, things won’t get any better.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 1-15
Lane has many internal hurdles to overcome. Four head coaches have taken over the program since the end of the 2016 season. Head Coach John Bates was thrown in at the start of the season.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 2-11
Another rebuilding year for LeMoyne-Owen baseball program and second-year head baseball coach Mark Smith. Played in some close ballgames this season. Lost to Eastern New Mexico 2-1. Costly errors and walks by the Magicians have allowed runs to score.
Lincoln University, PA
2017 Mid-Season Record: 5-12
The Lincoln University Lions consistency is an issue. Had some good wins this season. Won its Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) opener for the first time since becoming an NCAA Division II program, defeated conference foe St. Augustine’s University 2-0. Wins against Urbana, Nyack College, Paine and St. Augustine’s. Terence Berry after Tommy John surgery is pitching really well. 3.98 earned run average, 37 strikeouts with a 2-1 record which includes tossing a combined no-hitter with teammate Marcos Castillo.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 9-12
The Golden Bears played a tough non-conference schedule then ran into Benedict to open conference play losing that series 2-1. Pitching has let this ball club down, but they have some good arms in the rotation. Maybe the starters have set themselves up to be a big factor in the SIAC conference.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 4-17
Coming into the season no one knew what to expect. Morehouse has had problems hitting, pushing runners across the plate, and starting pitching has not led to victories. Defeated conference rival Tuskegee 3-2 in a match of two storied programs. If they can manage the adversity, I definitely think this team can upset the balance of power in the SIAC.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 0-2
2017 Season just underway
2017 Mid-Season Record: 10-11
The Lions are starting to live up to preseason expectation. Both starters and relievers picking each other up and not allowing inherited runners to score. Paine will finish at the top of the division once again led by Black College Nines preseason All-American Evan Krenz.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 3-20
The Bearcats are in another rebuilding year. Big crop of first-year talent, but lacking power at the plate, defense and pitching. Biggest weakness…short on power at the plate, short on solid pitching.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 5-7
Going into the season, big things expected in 2017 for the Bulldogs. Hitting has been decent. The pitching rotation so far has been good from starters to middle relievers. When it comes to scoring runs, Selma has been inconsistently leaving runners stranded in scoring position. But they are poised for a seventh straight playoff appearance run at the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) tournament and contend for a second national title.
Saint Augustine’s University
2017 Mid-Season Record: 12-17
The Falcons are off to a good start this season. 12 wins is a good sign. RHP Marquis Johnson is pitching well and has gotten run support when pitching. This will be needed when facing CIAA conference opponents. Second and third starters need to step up along with middle relievers.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 6-18
Coming into the season, young starting pitching was expected to lead to victories. Lack of putting the ball in play has contributed to underperforming. Not winning close ball games like they did in the past and not having a sturdy mound presence has contributed to losses. Since leaving Division II, the Tigers have a very tough non-conference schedule verses top ranked NAIA non HBCU programs.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 20-11
Tough non-conference schedule. The Tornados have beaten five top 25 NAIA ranked teams they’ve faced including the current No. 1 Faulkner. On the mound, Kyle Chavez and Brian Marquez have made an impact. As the season progresses, Talladega will contend and should be at the top of the GCAC and top seed in the A of II conference tournament. Those early season games will aid in its run towards a NAIA national tournament.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 7-20
Coming into the season, the Steers first-year head baseball coach Anthony Macon hoped to have an impact by stabilizing pitching. The mound staff has made strides but have not maintained a consistency. They’ve won more games this season than last which is a positive, but depth is a concern.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 8-18
The Bulldogs heading into the start of the season added a competitive schedule to build upon its team strength and help the ballclub gain experience. The entire team is making a great effort but the team is struggling at the plate and the rotation is not living up to expectations.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 14-12
The Golden Tiger roster is packed with young players and a good young head coach. Tuskegee is gearing up to knock off SIAC opponents during conference play and make a run for the conference tournament as they have for several years. What has help the Golden Tigers? In a recent three-game series against Barry University, Tuskegee faced two pitchers who are on Major league baseball draft boards. Since that series in Miami, they have become an improved team.
Virginia State University
2017 Mid-Season Record: 11-10
So far hitting, fielding and pitching have lead to a 11-9 record and receiving votes in Black College Nines top 10 and Atlantic Division II poll. What has gone right with a talented Trojans baseball team? So far it has been hitting and pitching. In my opinion, VSU is the team to watch this season in the CIAA.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 6-10
Voorhees is playing some good baseball in spite of its 6-10 record. Expect the Tigers. with a strong core of freshmen who are producing big time, to win. They have depth at all positions.
West Virginia State University
2017 Mid-Season Record: 7-9
This may very well be a down year for the Yellow Jackets. West Virginia State is facing a tough non-conference schedule and competition will also be strong within the conference.
2017 Mid-Season Record: 6-20
Lack of hitting, pitching without consistency. Lost some tough one run games thus far in the season. Biggest weakness is not being able to plate runners in close games with men on base. So far, Wiley has been inconsistent getting through innings offensively and defensively.
Winston-Salem State University
2017 Mid-Season Record: 12-11
The Rams have not gotten going yet. Not having a big run producer has contributed to some tough losses. Also, starting pitching has led to some tough losses. However, they appear ready to make a run and return to the regional’s.