By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO,

Howard University’s Softball team ended its 2019 season one game shy of playing for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship after an 8-5 loss to Florida A&M at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championships.  

Coach Tori Tyson’s first season restored credibility to one of the storied programs in the MEAC as they reached the postseason for the first time since 2015. Their 19-29 record reflects their most wins in seven years. The Lady Bison also won their first tournament win in eight seasons and finished above .500 in conference play with an 8-7 record.

Howard University Bisons won their first tournament in eight seasons, but fell shot at the softball championship game. (Courtesy Photo)

Howard opened the MEAC Tournament with a 6-0 shutout of North Carolina Central (NCCU) in the quarterfinals at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex. With the victory, Howard secured its first MEAC Tourney win since 2011.  Sophomore Breanna Robinson went 2-for-3 at the plate and including a two-run home run in the fourth inning.

Redshirt senior Mackenzi Steele struck out three and sprinkled its four hits while striking out three to keep the Lady Eagles off the scoreboard in the win and earn a complete game shutout.

The Bison then moved into the single elimination loser’s bracket following an 9-1 loss to Bethune-Cookman where they faced North Carolina A&T (NCAT) in an elimination game. The MEAC’s top hitting attack jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to a two-run double from Robinson in the first inning.

NCAT responded with three unearned runs in the second and sliced the margin to 4-3.  Howard’s Kalita Dennis, was 3-of-4 with a solo homer in the fifth. Dennis, Camille Navarro and Breanna Robinson each had two RBIs in the 7-5 win.  

Then for the second time in three days, Steele tossed a complete game shutout win and beat North Carolina Central 7-0.  Steele earned her 13th win of the year after throwing seven scoreless innings and struck out four.

Howard scored seven runs on 10 hits. Dennis set the tone for Howard, drilling a solo shot to left center and giving the Bison an early 1-0 lead. The Bison got two hits each from junior Kamryn Tillman and Navarro.

However, the magic wore off one game before the championship when the Rattlers beat them in the semifinals.