Virginia State Baseball Will Have a Target on Its Back After Being Ranked Third In 2021 HBCU Baseball Pre-Season Top Ten Poll

Virginia State University is ranked third among small HBCU schools according to the Black College Nines 2021 Pre-Season Top Ten Poll. VSU will open the 2021 season this Saturday with a three-game series consisting of a double-header on Saturday afternoon and a single game on Sunday afternoon against the Lincoln University Lions. The games will be      held at Whaley Colbert Field at the VSU ballpark.

Pre-Season Rankings
The Trojans have a pre-season ranking third among all non-division one HBCU programs in the country. VSU finished  the shortened season of 2020, 13-10 (.565) with a final ranking of  No. 3 as well. The team ended their 2020 season with a series sweep against Claflin University with a combined score of 40 to 12.

Returning talent
The Trojans have a plethora of returning talent with 6 returning starters taking the field this year. Last year, VSU   had two returning student-athletes with a .300 or better batting average including Cecil Henderson and Kevin Russell. Leading the pack offensively is Russell who batted an astounding .416 while going on a 13- game hitting streak, he also led the team in runs batted in with 23. Aaron Harris is another staple in the lineup as he led the Trojans in triples last season with three. Defensively, VSU is led by Jeremiah Hardy who posted a team-high 37 strikeouts while upholding a 4.17 ERA.

Weekend Schedule (^-all statistics from 2020 season)
Game One- Saturday, March 5
Lincoln University at Virginia State
1 p.m. *Petersburg, VA *Colbert Field at VSU Ballpark
Projected Starter Game One: VSU RHP Jeremiah Hardy (5-0, 4.17 ERA)

Game Two- Saturday, March 5
Lincoln University at Virginia State
3 p.m. *Petersburg, VA *Colbert Field at VSU Ballpark
Projected Starter Game Two: VSU RHP Andrew Riddick (3-2, 7.86 ERA)

Game Three- Sunday, March 6
Lincoln University at Virginia State
1 p.m. *Petersburg, VA *Colbert Field at VSU Ballpark
Projected Starter Game Three: VSU P Robert Hatcher

Weekend Preview
VSU will make their 2021 season debut this weekend against Lincoln University as the Trojans prepare for the long-awaited opening day at Colbert Field at VSU Ballpark. The 2021 season will extend an 18 season stint under head coach Merrill Morgan as they take the field for the first time since March 11, 2021, when the 2020 season was called off due to COVID concerns following the Claflin Midweek series.

Merrill Morgan enters his 18th season as head Baseball Coach at Virginia State University. During his tenure he has compiled more than 340 victories. He has guided VSU to four CIAA Championships, including three consecutive championships in 2007, 2008, and 2009 and was named CIAA Coach of the Year in 2004, 2006, and 2007. Under his leadership, the Trojans have also been runner-up five times.

Among players set to make their VSU debuts this weekend are a trio of freshmen including projected game three starter Robert Hatcher, middle infielder Christian Henderson and   outfielder Emmett Jefferson. Robert Hatcher comes to VSU by way of Indian River High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Christian Henderson is on campus and impressing coaches early as well as he was ranked in the top-200 in Virginia. Rounding out the trio is Emmet Jefferson an outfielder out of Norfolk Collegiate in Norfolk, Virginia who is speedy on the base paths.

VSU and LU are the lone CIAA teams that still have baseball programs. While the record between the two teams is 36-3 in favor of VSU, Coach Morgan mentioned that Lincoln has made great strides in the past few years and should not be taken lightly.

About Lincoln
Lincoln has had a rough past few years going 2-6 before the shut down in 2020 and 2-39 in 2019. While their record may not reflect it, the team has a few standouts such as Elias Beltre who’s ripping the cover off the ball with a .556 batting average and Luis Miguel Reinoso who leads the team with an ERA of 7.20.

Last Meeting
The Trojans took down the Lions 14-2 with couple hits from both Kevin Russell and Keyon Smith with Bryce Haynes picking up the win.

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