The Lady Falcons will play five games in the 12-team event, hosted by Claflin University. They open against Georgia Southwestern State University at 1 p.m. and Benedict College at 5 p.m. on Friday, February 7. On Saturday, February 8, the Lady Falcons face Coker College at 9 a.m., South Carolina State University at 3 p.m. and South Carolina-Aiken at 5 p.m.
The Lady Falcons return nine players from last year’s squad which finished fourth in the CIAA Tournament and second in the Southern Division last season. The tournament finish was the best in recent memory. Their 17-12-1 mark was the first winning overall record in 10 years.
The Lady Falcons are led by the sister duo of outfielder/infielder Jo’Landa White (Jr./Leland, NC) and outfielder Daja White (Soph./Leland, NC). Both players were named Daktronics All-Atlantic Region and Daja White was selected Daktronics Honorable Mention All-America.
The White sisters each smacked eight home runs to lead the CIAA last season. Daja White also ranked second in the league in RBIs (38) and stolen bases (30) and fourth in batting average (.476) on the way to earning All-CIAA Rookie Team honors. Jo’Landa White drove in 29 runs and batted .422.
Pitcher/infielder Hannah Stutts (Jr./Statesville, NC) was also a key contributor for the Lady Falcons. She ranked second in the CIAA in batting average (.493) and tied for fifth in home runs (5). Stutts and pitcher Michelle Shackelford (Sr./Bowie, MD) combined for 13 wins on the mound and 92 strikeouts last season.
Both Stutts and Daja White had two of the top 10 batting averages in Division II last season. They, along with Jo’Landa White, were a major reason why the Lady Falcons ranked fifth in Division II with a .346 batting average. Daja White also ranked second in the nation in runs per game (1.5).
Outfielder Cierra Neal (Jr./New Hill, NC) ranked fourth on the team in batting last season with a .372 average and first baseman LaKeisha Ford (Sr./Madison Heights, VA) led the team in doubles (10). Pitcher Jennifer Plair (Sr./Hampton, VA) led the Lady Falcons with five sacrifice bunts.
Catcher/third baseman Taylor Walters (Jr./Douglasville, GA) was among the team leaders in triples (2) last season. Infielder Ashia Nicholson (Soph./Asheboro, NC) was among the top players on the team last season in on base percentage.
The Lady Falcons added four newcomers. They are outfielder Meghan Mahon (Fr./Houston, TX), pitcher/second baseman Meranda Zanni (Fr./Phoenix, OR), pitcher/outfielder Korey Hill (Fr./Virginia Beach, VA) and infielder Tyanna Peterson (Brooklyn Park, MN).
Zanni was an all-state and all-conference player for four straight years and league pitcher of the year. Hill was an all-district first team and two-time all-conference player. Peterson was a two-time all-conference player and defensive player of the year. Mahon was a three-time all-district honorable mention pick and an all-state academic selection. She played on the St. Aug volleyball team this past fall.
The Lady Falcons will make their home debut against Davis & Elkins College in a non-conference doubleheader at Buffaloe Road Park in Raleigh, N.C. Game times are noon and 2 p.m.