Morgan State To Face Tournament 10th Seed Duke In Durham Regional On Friday On ESPN+

BALTIMORE, Md. — The Morgan State softball team will face the tournament’s 10th-seeded Duke Blue Devils on Friday, May 17 at 2:30 p.m. at Duke Softball Stadium in its first game of the Durham Regional hosted by Duke. This will be the Lady Bears’ second regional appearance in program history. In 2021, Morgan State was sent to the Normal Regional where it took on host and the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, Oklahoma.

NCAA Softball Tournament, Durham Regional
Morgan State (35-18, 18-3 MEAC) at 10th seeded Duke (47-6, 20-4 ACC)
Friday, May 17, 2024 | 2:30 p.m.
Possible Opponents: South Carolina (34-22, 8-16 SEC) or Utah (34-20, 10-13 PAC 12)
Durham, N.C. | Duke Softball Stadium | Duke University
Websites: |
Durham Regional Central Page | NCAA Tournament Bracket

BEAR CLAWS: The Lady Bears (35-18, 18-3 MEAC) are making their second NCAA Regional appearance after capturing their second Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championship by defeating crosstown rival Coppin State twice on Championship Saturday (5/11). Morgan State won the first game 5-1 to force a second, which it also won 6-0. Head coach Larry Hineline was named Tournament Most Outstanding Coach, while Victoria Fletcher was named Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Fletcher, along with Gianna Ettore, Emily Raubuch and Melissa Paz were all named to the all-tournament team.

Morgan State, which won a school record 35 games, claimed its fourth straight MEAC regular season crown dating back to the 2021 season when it won the MEAC Northern Division title in the league’s final season of division play. The Lady Bears closed out the regular season defeating rival Coppin State in two of the three games of the series. Morgan’s Game 1 victory over the rival Eagles helped the Lady Bears claim the regular season crown, before taking the second game, which allowed Morgan State to tie the school record for MEAC victories in a season at 18.

ABOUT DUKE: Duke (47-6, 20-4 ACC), which earlier this week was ranked seventh in the Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll, is making its fourth straight NCAA appearance. The Blue Devils enter the Morgan State game on an eight-game winning streak. Coached by Marissa Young, who is in her seventh season at Duke, the Blue Devils captured the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship, following a 6-3 win over No. 13 Florida State in the title game (5/11). Like Morgan State, this was Duke’s second conference softball championship after also winning the ACC crown in 2021. Seniors Claire Davidson and Jala Wright, junior Ana Gold and sophomore Aminah Vega were named to the ACC All-Tournament team. Wright was also selected as the ACC Tournament MVP.

MORGAN-DUKE SERIES NOTES: Duke holds a 1-0 lead over Morgan State. The two teams last met on Feb. 23, 2018 on Day 1 of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. The Blue Devils would win 5-0. 

THE SECOND TIME AROUND: Morgan State will make its second appearance in the NCAA Softball Tournament, when it heads to Durham, N.C. this weekend to compete in the Durham Regional (May 17-19). The Lady Bears will open play on Friday, May 17, when they take on host Duke, the 10th seed at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN+. Morgan State’s first and only other appearance in the tournament came in 2021, when the team was paired in the Norman Regional. The Lady Bears faced the No. 1 overall seed in Oklahoma in the opener and faced Texas A&M in the elimination bracket.

ONLY THREE BEARS LEFT: Graduate player Melissa Paz, and seniors Mia Ewell and Emily Raubuch are the only Lady Bears that remain from the 2021 team that captured the program’s first MEAC title and reached the Norman Regional that season.

PAZ FOREVER ETCHED IN POSTSEASON HISTORY: Graduate player Melissa Paz will forever be tied to Morgan State’s postseason history. In 2021, the then sophomore recorded the Lady Bears’ first-ever hit in postseason history and the lone hit of the game for Morgan in the opener against the top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners. Paz, who hit a single up the middle in the second inning, finished 1-of-2 at the plate against the Sooners. She also pitched an inning and recorded a strikeout to provide the only strikeout for Bear’s staff that day and the first strikeout in Morgan State’s postseason history.

WHERE TO COACH?: Morgan State head coach Larry Hineline was blessed to have a team full of athletes in 2024 that he could move around when necessary. Freshman Amber Rivas, who was named MEAC Rookie of the Year, came to Morgan State as a catcher and was converted to the starting right fielder. Senior All-MEAC third team selection Mia Ewell, spent the majority of her career playing in the middle infield between second base and shortstop, was moved to centerfield this season. Fellow senior Anaya Hunte, a two-time back-to-back MEAC Pitcher of the Year in 2022 and 2023, also became a starting outfielder during the second half of the season, as she was moved to left field.

TOURNAMENT EXPOSURE: Morgan State faced four teams in this season’s field of 64 (Baylor, Liberty, Saint Francis-Pa. and Penn State). The Lady Bears went winless (0-7) against these opponents. MSU met Penn State, Saint Francis-Pa. and Liberty during the Liberty Classic (Feb. 23-25) and faced then 17th ranked Baylor for a three-game series (March 2-3).

MORGAN SETS SCHOOL RECORD FOR WINS: The Lady Bears set the school record for wins this season with 35, heading into this weekend’s Duke Regional. The previous school record of 31 wins was set by the 2022 team. Morgan broke the school record with a 3-2 victory over South Carolina State (5/10) in eight innings in the consolation bracket of the MEAC Tournament, giving the team its 32nd win. This year’s 35 wins marks the second time in program history a Morgan squad has recorded 30 wins.

LADY BEARS TIE SCHOOL MARK FOR MEAC VICTORIES: For the second time in three seasons, Morgan State recorded 18 conference victories. The Lady Bears’ 18-3 league record tied the school record for most MEAC wins in a season with the 2022 team, which finished 18-3 to set the mark. Prior to the 2022 season, the school record for MEAC wins was set by the 1998 team, which went 16-0.

MSU IN MEAC TITLE GAME: Morgan State made its fourth appearance in the MEAC softball championship game (5/11). Prior to this season’s run, the Lady Bears last appeared in the 2022 title game, where it dropped two games to rival Howard on Championship Saturday. The year before, Morgan State captured the program’s first MEAC softball title with a 10-5 victory over North Carolina Central. Morgan’s first championship appearance came in the 1999 season, where it fell to Florida A&M.

TOUGH AT HOME: Morgan State went 21-5 at Lois T. Murray Field this season, including 10-2 against MEAC foes. The Lady Bears began the season 8-0 at home and closed out the season going 7-2 in their final home contests. Morgan State has gone 57-16 at Lois T. Murray Field since the 2021 season, following the return from the shortened Covid-19 season in 2020.

RIVAS FALLS SHY OF CYCLE: Freshman Amber Rivas showed out in Morgan State’s ESPNU contest at Norfolk State (4/13), as she nearly hit for the cycle, falling a homerun short in the series opener. The West Hills, Calif., native finished 3-for-3 with a single, double and triple, two runs and 2 RBI in the win over the Spartans.

NINE AND COUNTING: Morgan State has gone unbeaten in its last nine MEAC series dating back to last season. The Lady Bears have won eight of those nine series outright, including five series by way of sweep. The ninth series ended in a doubleheader split with South Carolina State last season. The third game was canceled and was not made it. The Lady Bears last MEAC series lost came last season on the road at Maryland Eastern Shore, when the Hawks won the doubleheader (4/15/22).

MORGAN PLACES NINE ON MEAC ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM: Morgan State had nine players (Madison Bolyea, Anaya Hunte, Alison Keener, Ky’Anah Lake, Nia Lewis, Melissa Paz, Emily Raubuch, Cassie White, Maia Wilkins) named to the MEAC Softball All-Academic Team as announced on Monday (5/6).

HINELINE NAMED CO-COACH OF THE YEAR: Morgan State head coach Larry Hineline was named MEAC Co-Coach of the Year. It was his second coach of the year award and the first since 2018. Hineline guided the Lady Bears to their fourth consecutive MEAC regular season championship and the No. 1 seed in this week’s tournament. The Lady Bears finished 30-17 overall, one win shy of tying the school record for wins in a season. Their 18-3 MEAC record ties the school mark with the 2022 team for most MEAC wins in a season. 

FLETCHER NAMED MEAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Morgan State graduate player Victoria Fletcher repeated as the MEAC Player of the Year after earning the award during the 2023 season. Fletcher, playing as a pitcher and infielder, collected a 2.44 ERA with a 0.96 WHIP throwing 62.2 innings. In 16 appearances, she has recorded a 7-4 record with three complete games and five shutouts. She has struck out 26 batters and was named MEAC Pitcher of the Week three times throughout the season. At the plate, Fletcher had a .331 batting average with a slugging percentage of .517 and an on-base percentage of .404. In 118 at-bats, she registered 39 hits with 10 doubles and four homeruns driving in 25 RBI and crossed home plate 12 times. 

RIVAS NAMED MEAC ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Morgan State freshman Amber Rivas was named MEAC Rookie of the Year. A native of West Hills, Calif., Rivas was the only Lady Bear to appear in all 46 games for Morgan State and collected a .317 batting average. In 142 at-bats, Rivas registered 34 runs on 45 hits with 10 doubles and three triples with 17 runs batted in. Rivas has tagged 61 total bases, stealing 14 and walking 13 times. She has a .430 slugging percentage, a .378 on-base percentage and an .808 on-base plus slugging percentage. 

SIX LADY BEARS NAMED TO ALL-MEAC TEAMS: Morgan State had a total of six players earn 2024 All-MEAC team honors. Along with being named MEAC Player of the Year, graduate player Victoria Fletcher was named to the All-MEAC first team at third base. Freshman Amber Rivas along with earning MEAC Rookie of the Year honors was named All-MEAC first team outfielder, while fellow freshman Ellie Bostedt was a Second-Team All-MEAC selection at pitcher. Seniors Emily Raubuch (pitcher), Ky’Anah Lake (shortstop) and Mia Ewell (outfield) all received Third-Team All-MEAC honors.

FLETCHER EARNS THIRD STRAIGHT MEAC PITCHING HONOR: Graduate player Victoria Fletcher was named MEAC Co-Pitcher of the Week. It is the third straight weekly honor this season for Fletcher. A native of Huntington, Md., Fletcher went 1-1 for the week, collecting an 0.00 ERA and giving up no earned runs on five hits. She would strike out seven batters through 10 innings pitched. In the series opener against Coppin State, Fletcher struck out six batters and allowed no runs on two hits.  

FLETCHER, BOSTEDT EARN MEAC HONORS AGAIN: Morgan State’s Victoria Fletcher received the honor of Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Pitcher of the Week, while teammate Ellie Bostedt was named the MEAC Rookie of the Week (4/25). It marked the second weekly honor this season for Fletcher and the fourth for Bostedt. Fletcher showcased exceptional dominance on the mound throughout the recently concluded series against Howard. Her remarkable performance earned her an impressive 0.44 ERA. In the series opener, Fletcher took the mound and delivered a complete game, striking out six batters while allowing only three hits. In the second game of their series against Howard, the Bears’ pitching ace, Bostedt, delivered a dominant performance against the Bison. She took the mound and proceeded to throw a complete game shutout, a feat that left her opponents without a single run.

LADY BEARS SWEEP HOWARD IN BATTLE FOR FIRST: Morgan State defeated Beltway rival Howard 2-1 in the series finale (4/21) to complete a three-game series sweep and move into sole possession of first place in the MEAC standings. It was the first three-game series sweep by either team since Morgan swept Howard in back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018.

FLETCHER, BOSTEDT EARN MEAC WEEKLY HONORS: Morgan State graduate player Victoria Fletcher was named MEAC Softball Pitcher of the Week, while freshman Ellie Bostedt was named MEAC Rookie of the Week (4/17). Fletcher went 2-0 for the week and posted an 0.86 ERA. Fletcher would give up just one run on three hits, while striking out six batters in 8.1 innings. She began the week striking out five batters and surrendering one-hit in a complete game five inning victory in the series opener at Norfolk State. At the plate, Fletcher added two hits including her team-leading fourth home run and had four RBI in eight at-bats. Bostedt tallied five hits, three runs, four RBI and batted .455 for the week. She hit .750 with three hits, two RBI and a run in the Game 2 victory over Norfolk State. She also pitched a complete game shutout in the series finale, giving up only four hits in seven innings with five strikeouts in 25 batters faced.

MORGAN TO MAKE DEBUT IN MEAC’S ESPNU CONTEST: The Morgan State softball program will make history this weekend when it travels to Virginia’s Tidewater area to take on Norfolk State in a three-game Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) series. Morgan State and the host Spartans will get underway with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 13 beginning at noon, which will air live on ESPNU. It will be the first time in school history that Morgan State will play in the MEAC’s regular season ESPNU softball contest.

HUNTE, BOSTEDT EARN MEAC WEEKLY HONORS: Morgan State senior Anaya Hunte was named MEAC Pitcher of the Week, while freshman Ellie Bostedt was named MEAC Rookie of the Week (4/2). It is the second weekly honor this season for both Hunte and Bostedt. Hunte went 1-0 in the circle with a complete game victory in Game 2 at South Carolina State. She pitched a total of 10.0 innings, allowing no runs on five hits for an ERA of 0.00 and threw three strikeouts in two games pitched against Towson and South Carolina State. In the win over S.C. State, she pitched all seven innings, surrendering four hits and striking out three. As a batter, Hunte recorded a hit, RBI and had a stolen base. Bostedt went 2-1 for the week with an ERA of 1.05 and one complete game in the series finale at South Carolina State. She pitched 13.1 innings, giving up three runs, two earned on 10 hits, a walk and struck out seven batters. Bostedt would go the distance and allowed one run on two hits and struck out four batters in the finale against South Carolina State. As a batter, Bostedt recorded two hits, a run and 2 RBI.

HUNTE NAMES MEAC PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Morgan State senior Anaya Hunte was named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Softball Pitcher of the Week (3/21) presented by Coca-Cola. It was the first weekly honor this season for Hunte. The two-time reigning MEAC Pitcher of the Year and 2024 MEAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year selection, pitched a total of 13.2 innings in three games, throwing 15 strikeouts to go 2-1 for the week. She began the week, throwing a season-high eight strikeouts in a non-conference loss to Niagara. The Burlington, N.J. native opened up MEAC play going 2-0 in the season opening series at Delaware State to help the Lady Bears to a 2-1 series win. Hunte tallied an ERA of 1.70, scattering two runs on 10 hits and recorded seven strikeouts. In the series opener against the Hornets, Hunte struck out three batters in 4.1 innings of work to help the Lady Bears to a 1-0 win.

BOSTEDT NAMED MEAC ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Freshman Ellie Bostedt was named MEAC Rookie of the Week, presented by Coca-Cola (3/5). Bostedt pitched the Lady Bears’ series opener at No. 17 Baylor and collected an ERA of 1.17, while pitching 6.0 innings. She surrendered two runs on six hits with two walks and one strikeout in a 2-0 loss to the host Bears.

MORGAN PICKED FIRST IN MEAC PRESEASON POLL: Morgan State was picked to finish first in the MEAC Preseason Poll with 119 points, including 10 first-place votes. Defending champion North Carolina Central, which received 108 points and five first-place votes was picked to finish second, followed by Howard, which received 90 points and one first-place vote for third.

FIVE LADY BEARS EARN PRESEASON ALL-MEAC HONORS: Graduate student Victoria Fletcher was named MEAC Softball Preseason Player of the Year, while fellow Lady Bear senior Anaya Hunte was named MEAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Fletcher and Hunte, who were both named to the Preseason All-MEAC First Team as pitchers, were joined by teammates graduate utility player Melissa Paz and sophomore outfielder Nia Lewis on the first team. Senior outfielder Mia Ewell was named to the Preseason All-MEAC Second Team, while Fletcher also earned second team honors at first base.

2024 MEAC SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT: The 2024 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Softball Championship Tournament is scheduled for May 8-11, 2024 at NSU Softball Field on the campus of Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va. This year’s double-elimination format will feature only the top-six seeds out of the league’s eight teams.

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