WSSU softball: ‘Team is starting to develop’

WSSU softball: ‘Team is starting to develop’
March 31
00:00 2016
Photo by Craig T.Greenlee
Destiny Snipes ranks among the Rams’ team leaders in RBIs.



Winston-Salem State’s softball team dropped a doubleheader to visiting UNC Pembroke by the narrowest of margins last week.

Entering the seventh inning of the opener, the Rams had a three-run lead, but they ended up losing 7-6 in extra innings. In the second game, WSSU came close to overcoming an early deficit, but fell short in a 4-3 defeat.

“This team is starting to develop,” said coach LaTaya Hilliard-Gray, “and we’re still going through the process of identifying our strengths and weaknesses. So, we still have some work to do.” The Rams (16-15 record as of March 29) is a relatively young team with no seniors on board. Nine new faces are on this year’s roster, which includes six freshmen and three transfers. “Yes we have a lot of new people,” added Hilliard-Gray, “but with all the games we’ve played up to now, they no longer can be considered rookies.”

At this point in the season, WSSU, picked to finish second in the CIAA, has performed well at the plate. Against UNCP, the Rams had 18 hits in two games. The main issue, however, is defense. A throwing error in the seventh inning of the first game allowed an unearned run, which helped to set the stage for the Braves comeback. In extra innings, a lead-off walk led to the game-winning run.

“Overall, we have to get better defensively,” Hilliard-Gray said. “We’ve given games away by committing errors at crucial times. Still, I’m pleased with where we are right now. So far, we’re 5-1 in the CIAA and we played well in a 5-1 loss to the 13th-ranked team in the country (West Virginia Wesleyan).”

It hasn’t taken long for WSSU’s new additions to make their presence felt. Freshmen Destiny Snipes and Taonya Stanley rank among team leaders in RBIs (15 and 11 respectively). Sophomore outfielder/catcher Tiarra Delaney tops all Rams with a .341 batting average, and junior college transfers Rebecca Demko and Idaysha Quinones provide stability and veteran leadership for a young group.

“Snipes is extremely versatile. I can play her in the infield or the outfield,” said Hilliard-Gray. “And she’s good enough at the plate where I can put her in the lead-off spot or at No.2 in the batting lineup. Quinones is an asset for us defensively. Her ability to throw runners out at the plate (from centerfield) makes her very valuable.”

The make-up of this year’s team, while young, could help the Rams go further than they did a year ago, when their season ended in the semifinal round of the CIAA tournament. Their only league loss so far is to Chowan, who was picked to win the conference in the pre-season voting.

In Hilliard-Gray’s mind, this year’s team is one of the most seasoned that she’s ever had during her 13-year tenure at Winston-Salem State. “We have a little more speed and more versatility,” she said. “We have several people who can play multiple positions. My job now is getting them to embrace our growth as a team, so that we can continue to enhance what we’re building.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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