HBCU Small School Mid-Season Report

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 2016 year-to-date mid-season performance.

Albany State University

2016 Mid-Season Record:  6-24

Albany State expected to repeat for a second straight Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) title. Instead, frontloaded a very tough non-conference schedule against top-notch NCAA Division II programs losing its first 16 games and have not fully recovered since.

Benedict College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 17-8

Benedict’s entire team has made an immediate impact. Aggressive on the basepaths, speed, fielding, pitching depth and team chemistry. Up to their customary base stealing antics, “the greatest show on dirt”. The biggest surprise is 6′-6″ sophomore infielder/outfielder David White, Jr., (.391), (7) home runs and (24) runs batted in. Starting the season by winning eight of their first ten games.

Bluefield State College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 6-18

As the season progresses, Big Blue must improve on current team (.234) batting average. Pitching is suspect, appears good at times and bad in others. 2016 wins will eclipse last season total of 7.

Claflin University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 11-20

The Panthers were expected to compete for an SIAC championship in 2016 with a veteran ball club returning seven of its nine starters from last year’s team. Big bat Damien “Rashad” Bivens is off to a very slow start. Last season top ace of the staff Darius Boykins did not enroll for classes this past January leaving a major void in the rotation. The team lacks hitting and producing runs. This team is better suited for SIAC conference play if the pitching can turn things around.

Concordia College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 2-14

Pitching was supposed to have an immediate impact after working hard during fall ball but the entire pitching staff has become a liability.

Edward Waters College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 14-11

Going into the season, big things expected in 2016 for a club that returned its entire roster. The pitching rotation so far has been good from starters to middle relievers. When it comes to scoring runs, the Tigers are inconsistent leaving runners stranded in scoring position. But they are poised  to repeat as Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) champions.

Florida Memorial University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 6-22

Played well this season in spite of record. Beat some nationally ranked teams…HBCU No. 1 ranked Benedict College, NAIA No. 11 Keiser University earlier this season. The biggest weakness, pitching. Shortage of arms from starters and relief to cover their schedule.

Harris-Stowe State University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 10-16

Head coach CJ Bilbrey has the Hornets off to a good start considering they play in the American Midwest Conference (AMC), one of the top conferences in the NAIA. This season 10 wins is a sign of things to come considering they did not win the tenth game until the 39th game of last season. Besides a big conference schedule, Harris-Stowe scheduled three NCAA Division I games this spring (Murray State and Southeast Missouri twice).

Huston-Tillotson University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 8-15

This is a freshman led squad that won seven of the first eleven games (7-4)…but the bats have cooled in the Texas heat. One win in their last 12 games. Offensively, the Rams started as many as five freshmen in its lineup and two of its five leading hitters are freshmen including two pitchers. Big reliance with youth on the mound unproven arms has put pressure on the defense.

Kentucky State University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 3-11

Kentucky State short of scoring runs 2016 from a lack of consistent hitting.

Lane College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 1-16

Lane picked up a victory for the first time in two years erasing a 38 game losing streak by defeating Concordia College (Alabama) this past February 19 with a 6-4 win. Since then Lane is on an eight-game losing stretch. Only HBCU team that lacks the consistency of hitting, pitching and fielding.

LeMoyne-Owen College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 2-19

2016 season is a rebuilding year for LeMoyne-Owen baseball program and first-year head baseball coach Mark Smith. Observe LeMoyne-Owen first game of the season against Christian Brother University (Live Stats). LeMoyne-Owen entered the bottom of the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead, costly errors and walks by the Magicians allowed four runs to score. This was their game to jump start the season. They have been reeling ever since.

Lincoln University, Missouri

2016 Mid-Season Record: 1-22

Last season (3-47) record, current, (1-22). Big crop of first-year talent lacking power at the plate, defense and pitching. Young with five seniors and 19 underclassmen. Biggest weakness…short on power at the plate, short on solid pitching.

 Lincoln University, PA

2016 Mid-Season Record: 2-11

The Lincoln University Lions play a tough out of conference schedule each year against teams from Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC), and the East Coast Conference (ECC), “all pretty tough conferences” as well as conference opponents from The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). This year’s team has a crop of unproven freshman in the lineup.

Miles College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 15-10

Surprised HBCU team of the 2016 season. Picked to finish near the bottom of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), started the season at 1-3, the Golden Bears in a recent span carried an extended eight-game winning streak with seven position starters have set themselves up to be a big factor in what appears to be a wide open SIAC conference race as all are batting above (.300) led by Keland Smith (.423).

Morehouse College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 12-14

Another surprise team of the 2016 season had a four-game and a five -game winning streak with timely hitting pushing runners across the plate, and starting pitching leading to victories. Bats and pitching again need to halt a current six-game losing streak. As long as they can manage the adversity, I definitely think this team’s very capable of playing for an SIAC conference title.

Morris College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 0-3

2016 Season just underway

Paine College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 16-11

Lions starters on the mound and its middle relievers made late-inning leads stand up. Nine pitchers with only one senior worked really hard during a most recent extended seven-game winning streak. Relievers picking each other up and not allowing inherited runners to score. In my opinion, Paine will finish at the top of the division led by Black College Nines preseason All-American Evan Krenz (5-2) with 48 strikeouts.

Rust College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 0-9

The Bearcats are in a rebuilding year with a crop of eighteen freshmen the exception of three that play in the outfield. They sit at a huge disadvantage with inclement weather and construction of their batting cage. With the young talent, they are striving to make this the best year a freshman team can have.

Selma University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 12-6

Selma is a well-coached team has been in every game they’ve had played in. Selma has upgraded in several key positions with 10 pitchers to the staff. Offensively, defensively and the rotation will help prepare for a sixth straight playoff appearance run at the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) tournament and contend for a second national title.

Saint Augustine’s University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 7-21

The Falcons were expected to generate offense with their bats but was dealt a mighty blow when top offensive weapon from last season’s team Jason Baytop, who batted .421 with 30 RBIs in 2015 transferred to Winston-Salem State this past January. Two bright spots in the lineup, standouts Corey Brassington and Darrell Langston are having outstanding seasons.

Stillman College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 6-20

The school is doing away with much of its athletic department at the end of the current school year cutting 10 of its 12 sports programs, included in the cuts, baseball. Sad for a program that claimed  Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship (SIAC) titles and NCAA Division II playoff appearances in 2007-2009 and 2011-2014 . First-year head coach Julius McDougal collected first career win at the start of the 2016 season against top-ranked NCAA Division II Mercyhurst.

Talladega College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 14-12

Talladega started the season going 8-2 in their first ten games. The Tornadoes team looks destined for good things even when this season was considered a rebuilding year. They have the makeup to make a run at the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) title. Amazed that the team’s best offensive hitter Jean Marmol, Black College Nines preseason All-American entire three-year collegiate career as a position player, in five pitching starts is 3-0.

Texas College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 4-12

The Steers first year head coach Stanley Stubbs has a young inexperienced team competing in the rugged Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC). Getting men on base has been a daunting task in the early going this season, but when they do swing the bats well, they have had some good wins. Upset conference member, 23rd NAIA nationally ranked Louisiana State-Shreveport.

Tougaloo College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 7-28

Tough non-conference schedule against Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) Division I, Division II, Division III and NAIA baseball programs. Shortage of arms from starters and relief to cover their schedule.

Tuskegee University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 6-15

The Golden Tiger roster is packed with young players, eight true freshmen, four redshirt freshmen and eight sophomores to go along with eight upperclassmen. As they mature, 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.

Virginia State University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 2-18

All expectation were high for Virginia State coming into the 2016 season. The VSU baseball team returned five starters from last year’s team of 25 wins and a second place finish in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Conference. Virginia State was ranked No. 7 in Black College Nines 2015 final poll and No. 4 in BCN preseason poll. Hard to explain what has gone wrong with a talented Trojans baseball team, though so far it has been hitting, fielding and pitching that have all failed.

Voorhees College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 8-11

For the first time in many seasons, Voorhees fields a full baseball squad which created a “buzz” on the campus this year. And this has been the strength of the team… having depth at all positions has given head coach JT Thomas options which have yielded early season success.

West Virginia State University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 8-8

West Virginia State is just starting to get into the meat of its schedule. The two-time defending Mountain East Conference (MEC) Champion has a veteran presence on the mound, Ten seniors are looking to return for a third NCAA Division II tournament appearance.  The Yellow Jackets have faced a tough non-conference schedule and competition will also be strong within the conference.

Wiley College

2016 Mid-Season Record: 10-20

Wiley has found good pitching with consistency in RHP Jose Hernandez (2-2) and LHP Emmanuel Pantaleon (2.58 ERA) with a 4-1 record. However, a big weakness so far has been inconsistency at the plate for a young athletic and fast team.

Winston-Salem State University

2016 Mid-Season Record: 12-14

A stout pitch staff has kept the Rams in ball games, but the prospects of a good offense, coming into the season, has been suspect and underperforming. Not winning the close ball games like they did in the past and not having a big run producer have contributed to some tough losses. Also, inexperience behind the plate to handle a talented pitching staff has led to some tough losses.