Howard Softball Alumni Game a Success
By Jamela Joseph
Special to howard-bison.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Howard Softball team hosted a morning of camaraderie, fun and nostalgia during its 1st Alumni Game on Sunday, October 19 at Banneker Stadium.
"The team is so much stronger," said Candice Tatum, the 2008 alum. The returning infielder then exclaimed, "They were blasting homeruns, hitting them off of slow pitches, fast pitches. It was crazy! The whole team looked solid, and I can't wait to see what they are going to do this season."
Fourteen former Lady Bison returned for the exciting event
in which they were swept by the current Bison squad. Even with Dale
McNeal, a four-year ace and All-MEAC performer, on the mound and
former all-conference standouts Tracy Javier, Kenicia Cross, Debbie
Lee, Rishelle Charles and Nayrobi Nicholas in the field, the vets
did not stand a chance against the current squad.
Senior outfielder, Sondra Jones said that their team looked really good and was pleased that McNeal took notice of their good pitching. All of the current Bison hurlers threw for the white team (Jessica Hurston, Christina McCoy, Emily Johnson and Carly Martin). Jones was also thrilled by the freshmen who she saw stepping up and filling in shoes.
"At first I was nervous to hit against Dale, but when I got up there I cooled down and got out there and did my thing," said freshman outfielder Ciera Gordon.
Gordon, who expected the vets to be a little more competition, was impressed with the showing of her team and had a great time.
"Emily Johnson is a beast," said Gordon. Johnson, a sophomore 3B/pitcher showed her talent with a pair of homeruns, finishing 3-4 at the plate.
The game was not simply competitive, but it transformed into a game filled with fun and laughter.
"I expected us to get whooped by the new girls because a lot of the alumni hadn't played since they left, but I was expecting a more challenging game," Tatum said with a chuckle.
More than the competition, players were happy to experience the historical game. Jones was proud to be playing with some of the girls who were a part of the beginning of the softball program, which coach Tonja Braxton started six years ago.
"It was basically a way to bring together the past and the future of the program. Without the past we would not have a future," Jones said.
Tatum was also overcome with elation, seeing old players, looking at the foundation that the coach built and seeing how far the team has progressed. She was however conflicted with feelings of sadness, reflecting on her college life and how much she missed playing softball with her teammates.
"I wish I could go back to undergrad and just play softball," Tatum said. "I miss it so much, and when you have a passion like that it will hurt you when it's over."
The alumni proved their dedication to the program. According to Tatum, many players would not have been able to come to Howard nor graduate if it was not for Coach Braxton paving the way.
Though it was not a season game, the players feel confident about their upcoming season and are glad to receive complete support from the alumni.
"The team is dynamite this year, and I can't wait to head to Florida for the MEAC championships to see them win another ring," Tatum said.
Junior centerfielder, Courtney Young, who sat on the sidelines of the alumni game due to an injury, said that the team will do exceptionally well.
"We are going to win the MEAC," Young said. "I think on paper we are the best team, but it is not only what it says on paper, but we have to go out and keep working hard and go ahead and win."