Savannah State Softball Opens 2020 Season Looking To Repeat Division I Success

Savannah State softball’s lone senior in 2020, Shayna Byers [Photo: Savannah State Athletics]
Savannah State softball’s lone senior in 2020, Shayna Byers [Photo: Savannah State Athletics]

Savannah State softball enters the program’s 18th season in 2020 with a new division and a new conference for the first time in nearly two decades.

The Lady Tigers spent seven seasons competing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and 16 years at the NCAA Division I level with a good bit of success. They open the 2020 season as a NCAA Division II program, competing for the first time in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC).

During their MEAC tenure, the Lady Tigers earned six championship berths, making it as far as the semifinals. In 2012, SSU won the MEAC Southern Division Title, entering the championship as the No. 1 seed.

Head coach Jose Gonzalez is entering his 13th season at the helm. Gonzalez is arguably one of Savannah State’s most successful Division I and MEAC head coaches. He went 70-48 in the MEAC over his seven years in the conference.

Looking ahead to the 2020 season, the Savannah State softball team will field a young team to open their SIAC tenure, after losing five seniors in 2019. With only five returners, the Lady Tigers will rely heavily on a number of true freshmen.

They will, however, be anchored at the plate by one of the best hitters in the MEAC last season, Stacie Smith. The sophomore from Metter, Georgia, was ranked 19th in the conference in hitting percentage with a .386 average. She was second in the conference in stolen bases.

SSU has one senior this year, third basewoman Shayna Byers, an Olathe, Kansas native. Byers had a .391 batting average last season, starting 11 games. Kameryn Baker, a junior from Gainesville, Florida, will be a force at the plate for SSU this season. Returner Amaiya Green is joined this season by her sister, Morgan Green. The Green sisters, Powder Springs, Ga. natives, will be key to SSU’s hitting game in 2020.

On the mound, SSU will rely on two true freshman this season to guide them on offense. Athens, Georgia’s Alisyn Ferrell and Tallahassee, Florida’s Mikayla Smith will anchor the Lady Tigers’ pitching staff.

The Savannah State 2020 schedule opens on Feb. 1 with the Lady Tiger Round Robin, featuring a three-game heads up with Claflin University and Embry Riddle. SSU will play 12 non-conference opponents through the month of February and into early March.

On March 12, SSU opens the conference portion of the season with the SIAC Softball Crossover in Jasper, Alabama. They’ll face Kentucky State, LeMoyne Owen, Spring Hill College, Tuskegee University and Lane College in the Crossover.

The first home SIAC series of the season takes place on March 28 and 29 against Fort Valley State. On April 4 and 5, they host Clark Atlanta in a three-game series and then travel to Columbia, S.C. for a three-game conference series with Benedict College to close out the regular season.

The 2020 SIAC Championship is set for April 29-May 2 in Albany, Georgia.

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