For the Second Year in
The Alabama State University Hornets are poised to repeat as SWAC baseball champions and received an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Playoffs. The East Alabama school rolls into the 2023 Southwest Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament as the number one seed from the Eastern Division, riding an impressive 39–16 overall record and a conference record of 24–7 into Russ Chandler Stadium, home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
The Hornets are a hard-hitting team with a .332 batting average over a 55-game schedule, including the University of Alabama and Yale. Jack Hay leads all Hornet batters with a .364 average, followed by Ian Matos at .348, Jayden Sloan at .347, and Cristian Lopes at .325.
ASU banged out 79 homers on the season, eclipsing the old school record of 64, and was led in the power department by Ali Lapread, a pitcher and outfielder, who hit 12 homers and batted .385 in 112 plate appearances. Rand Flores led the batters with 200 or more at-bats with ten homers, followed by Jack Hay and Ian Matos with nine each. The Hornets outscored their opponents 469 to 291.
On the mound, Omar Melendez is a workhorse, tossing 87 innings and posting an 11–0 won-lost record with 92 strikeouts and a 2.59 earned run average. Ricardo Rivera went 10–0 with 65 strikeouts and a 3.36 ERA. In contrast, Shadai Colon struck out 63 batters with his 5–0 record and 3.25 ERA.
The Hornets, led by Head Coach Jose Vazquez, a native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, are playing exciting baseball. Vasquez was hired in 2016, and in seven years, he has a .644 winning percentage and a 236–152 overall record. Coach Vasquez is becoming one of the top baseball coaches in Division I. He recruits heavily in Puerto Rico and has 11Puerto Rican players on this year’s squad from the island of his birth.
First up for ASU is Prairie View A&M University, coached by former professional baseball player Antwan Riggins. Prairie View is seeded fourth after a 15–14 conference record. You can never count-out a Riggins-coached team. It is hard to find a baseball coach at a PWI or an HBCU level who pays attention to the slightest details of the baseball game than Coach Riggins.