Wildcats win MEAC; will face FSU in NCAA tourney

MEAC
Bethune-Cookman University’s women’s softball team are shown after winning the 2019 MEAC tournament title. The Wildcats won their second straight title, earning their second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

COMPILED BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Bethune-Cookman University won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Softball Tournament Championship from May 8-11 and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

B-CU (26-29) plays the defending national champion and national fourth-seeded squad Florida State University Seminoles (51-8) in the Tallahassee Regional on May 17. The game will air on ESPNU live at 2:30 p.m.

“Florida State has always been strong. They hit well, have great speed and great pitching. They’ll be tough,” said B-CU Head Coach Laura Watten.

Watten is headed to her eight NCAA Regional as coach of the Wildcats and 11th overall as a coach.  

Also participating in the Tallahassee Regional will be South Carolina (36-17) and South Florida (40-17).

‘Nothing to lose’

The winner of the double-elimination tournament advances to the NCAA Super Regionals, which will be held May 23-26.

It’s also the first time B-CU will play in Tallahassee in a Regional since 2004. Last year, the team played in the NCAA Regionals in Gainesville.

“It was either Florida State or Florida. It’s good to be in a different place. Last year I think our team was starstruck last season in Gainesville. This year feels a little bit different. I think we’ll be a different team,” noted Watten.

Despite the challenge, the Wildcats believe in themselves.

MEAC Pitcher of the Year Alexis Bermudez said, “It’s a challenge. We’re the underdog. We have nothing to lose.”

B-CU has also won 14 of its last 18 games headed into the Regionals.

“We’re playing well. We’re in a good place. We’re peaking at the right time,” noted Watten.

Bermudez echoed, “We have momentum. We came together at the right time.

MEAC
A B-CU player lays down a bunt during a game in the MEAC Tournament. The Wildcats won the tournament and are headed to the NCAA Tournament.

Back-to-back champs

The Wildcats won the MEAC tournament for the second consecutive season.

During the four-day double elimination tournament from May 8 through May 11, they won four of five games.

On championship Saturday, they beat archrival Florida A&M University 11-5 to clinch the win after the Rattlers beat them 1-0 to force another game earlier that day.

B-CU topped FAMU in the tournament finale for the second consecutive season. The rivals have played in six consecutive MEAC tournament championship games.

Key players

B-CU outfielder converted catcher Sasha Killings was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. She hit .313 for the tournament with five RBI’s.

Teammates Alexis Bermudez and Cheyenne Smith also made the All-Tournament Team for BCU. Bermudez posted a 2.34 ERA with 19 strikeouts over the weekend while Smith hit .417

Brianna Sanders (.333BA) and Brianna Paysinger (.417BA) also played well for the Wildcats.

The team also defeated Howard (9-1), Coppin State (8-0) and FAMU (5-4/9 innings) during the tournament.

B-CU won consecutive MEAC titles for the first time since 2010-2012.

It’s also the 11th MEAC title for the Wildcats and seventh for Watten. She is also 43-23 all-time against FAMU and 12-10 in the MEAC tournament.

During the regular season, BCU went 13-2 in the MEAC, won the Southeastern Division title and picked up a win over then No. 17 Oregon in the Mary Nutter Classic earlier in the season.

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