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MO’NE Davis Talks Hbcu Movement, College Softball and Little League Memories

Mo’ne Davis, player on the Anderson Monarchs Little League Baseball team, attends the Major League Baseball (MLB) unveiling of a mural honoring Negro League Baseball and players, Mamie Peanut Johnson, and Josh Gibson. The ceremony was held next to the historic Bens Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, July 12, 2018. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Mo’ne Davis is a college softball player at Hampton University entering her sophomore year. Before transitioning to softball, Davis was a Little League baseball pitcher where, at the age of 13, she became the first girl to earn a win and pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history. Below, Davis details her transition to softball, her first year in college and the importance of supporting HBCUs. 

You are going to be a sophomore at Hampton this year. Have you started classes yet?

Yeah, I started classes on Monday. We’re all online and at home for the fall. I miss the girls on the team and just hanging out with them and the coaches. But it’s important for us to stay safe and make sure everyone shelters now, so that we can hopefully come back in the spring and have a season.

You made your college debut this past February, and then the season was cancelled because of COVID-19. What have the last few months been like for you? 

We had our spring break at the end of February. Honestly, between spring break and when they wrapped up the season, I’d say that was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had playing softball. We were on campus by ourselves during spring break, so we all started to really connect with each other and have a lot of fun. Then the scene just ended out of nowhere. I was sad, but now we are all excited for next year. The good thing is we’re only losing one senior, so we get to keep the same team for the next two or three years. I had a great time for the short period that I had this past season, and I’m looking forward to getting started back up with the girls and just reconnecting with them.

What have you heard about your team’s plans moving forward in terms of either practicing together or preparing to play next spring? 

We haven’t really heard anything. Our coach is trying to figure out what we could possibly do. Right now, she’s saying to just work out and be in game shape by February. Personally, I’m working out, taking some ground balls, working on my fielding, working on my hitting, doing a lot of running to stay fit, doing some lifting. I’m trying to do as much as can with what I have. None of my teammates live close to me, but I have my friends from high school who played, so I go and work out with them. I’m just trying to make the best out of the situation, so when the time comes I’ll be ready to play.

Besides COVID, how would you describe your freshman year, both in terms of softball and school?

I would say I really enjoyed it. I thought I was going to struggle with classwork, but I didn’t at all. I had some good friends in my classes. The professors were really nice. A lot of girls on the team helped out to make sure all the freshmen were cool and staying on track. I had a lot of fun and I’m just excited to get back.

This Saturday is the anniversary of your famous Little League World Series shutout. When you look back at your Little League World Series run now, what stands out to you?

I think a lot of people would say my maturity, but for me, whenever I think about Little League, I think about what I did with the other players from around the world. My favorite memory that will always stick with me is when we played dodgeball in the rec room with basically every team there. We were all just being kids and we weren’t focusing on baseball — we were just getting to know each other and hanging out.

Other than that, I would say making memories with my teammates and making new friends was a great part of Little League. I still talk to a lot of the players from different teams. We always bring up memories when we’re all together and we just have good laughs. I don’t really remember too much about the on-field experience because I was just kind of locked in and zoned in.

How did your teammates welcome you when you first arrived on campus? Did anyone ask for your autograph?

Everyone was pretty chill. I met a lot of my teammates before we got started, so we were all super chill. As time goes on, you get to know each other and then everyone starts joking like, “Oh my God, can you sign this?” It’s all jokes once you really get to know each other, but they try to make it as normal as possible for me. Same goes for all of the students at school — they all make sure that I’m comfortable there and that I’m enjoying my college experience.

You were a pitcher in baseball and now you are an infielder in softball. Can you speak to that transition?

I first started playing softball and taking it seriously in 10th grade. The biggest transition for me was base running and learning the rules. In baseball you can take a lead, but in softball you can’t. And some of the base running rules, I wasn’t sure about. I mean, I’m still not really sure about them, I just kind of go along with it.

With playing second base, the hardest thing is making sure I know what I’m doing with the ball and that I get to my position in time. We worked a lot on it in the fall and the spring. It’s hard to work on it now because you don’t have enough people to try to build that team chemistry. I’m going to try and keep learning somehow, but those are really the hardest things for me. I picked up everything else pretty quickly. The fieldings are the same. I don’t pitch which is amazing because I don’t have to learn the pitching motion. It was probably one of the easiest transitions — it didn’t really challenge me that much.

I’ve seen videos of baseball players trying to hit a softball pitch and it is usually a lot harder for them than you would think. How is it for you? 

I tell a lot of my old baseball teammates, like, “It might seem that easy, but it’s really not.” But then I have some old teammates who actually know how difficult it is and they’re like, “Yeah. It’s really not that easy,” like “I give props to all the softball players hitting a ball that’s rising, because it looks like it’s going to be right over the plate and then ends up at your head. It’s not easy to hit.” I’m like, “Thank you. There are some respectful baseball players out there.”

You mentioned that you started playing softball around 10th grade. Did you transition to softball because of limited opportunities to play baseball at a higher level as a female? Or, was it because softball is something new and there are more opportunities to play in college? 

Well, I played middle school baseball in seventh and eighth grade and I made the varsity team. Then, in ninth grade, I played on the JV high school team and I didn’t get to pitch as much. I liked the coach as a person, but I didn’t like him as a coach. He didn’t really give me a chance to prove myself, to really show that I can hang with the guys. So, it wasn’t as fun. My friends tried to convince me to play softball in 10th grade because they were losing a shortstop. They said that a lot of good players were coming in just to try it out for the year. So, I would say my friends motivated me and persuaded me to hop on the softball train. We ended up winning the league two years in a row.

What went into your decision to play at a Historically Black College/University (HBCU)?

At the moment, I wasn’t really thinking about just going to a HBCU. I just wanted to be comfortable wherever I was. Since I decided to play softball so late, a lot of schools were already done with their 2019 recruits. Two HBCUs reached out and I visited both campuses. I did my research on both colleges, making sure they had my major, looking at the teams and the rosters, and how they did in previous years. I looked at how close each school was to home so that my parents could come visit, and I had a lot of family and friends in Virginia so that was one of the main reasons I chose to go to Hampton. Also, Hampton has a really good journalism school which is what I want to do in the future. All of the girls there were super nice, and the coaches were nice. The team focuses a lot on family and making sure every player is a part of the family. That was really important to me because, growing up, all of my teammates were basically family members to me.

Recently, we’ve seen several top basketball recruits either commit to HBCUs or say they’re planning to consider them. Why do you think it’s important for more Black athletes to consider HBCUs?

I think it’s important in the sense of just giving back to your people. I went to a predominantly white high school. Being one of the few black kids there, some people didn’t have the greatest experiences. I was fortunate that I didn’t have to go through those struggles, but I was always there for whoever had problems. I was always there to help them out and be a shoulder to lean on. Once I went to a HBCU, it was completely different. You are surrounded by people that you can relate to — everyone has different backgrounds, but you can always relate to the person. I think that’s pretty cool.

A lot of players overlook HBCUs because people don’t often get drafted from these schools. I think once basketball players and football players get on campus, they’ll be grateful for the experience and they’ll be able to help push HBCUs to gain more recognition. I know a lot of basketball players, like Chris Paul, are trying to push HBCUs forward. If these high-ranking high school recruits come up, it will really boost the attention HBCUs get. People will want to watch not just that one recruit, but the whole team play.

What else will it take to create a true HBCU movement?

A lot of basketball players are pushing HBCUs, but I think it will really come down to these top high school recruits choosing HBCUs. I mean, for example, you have Mikey Williams who is only a sophomore and he has tons of followers on Instagram and he kind of promotes HBCUs. I’ve had people DM me asking if he’s coming to my school and I don’t even know the kid personally. Just from him promoting HBCUs, other people get involved and start doing their research and looking at the schools. And it just keeps circulating. If high school recruits keep looking at HBCUs and promoting them, it helps boost HBCUs up and give them the attention that they need.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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