Updated: Mar 13, 2021
Multiple postponements of their games due to rainy weather has left CAU's softball team disappointed but determined for when they can play their first home game of the season.
CAU's softball team, who had a GPA of 3.0 and higher, being recognized by CAU faculty.
Photo taken by Derrian Carter.
Rain, rain go away. Home is where the heart is, but for the CAU Lady Panthers softball team, their home has been desolate since the start of the season.
CAU’s softball team has not played any home games at Lady Panthers Softball Field due to persistent rain. They have had a total of four games postponed this season, including three at home. The teams that CAU have not played at home due to weather this season are: Georgia Southwestern State University, Point University and Allen University. Games being postponed has caused a “damper on things.” Despite this, they are 4-6, and they have remained hungry, competitive and motivated to fight on.
Head coach of the CAU softball team, Lawanda Pearson, stated the impact that the rain has on CAU softball. “Our home field is so delicate that if it rains for a day, we normally have to wait two days for it to dry out. This season, it has rained for multiple days including on game day. As coaches, we find ourselves staring at the weather forecast trying to figure out what will be a good day to reschedule,” she said. With coaches having to constantly reschedule their games and monitor the weather as if they were “meteorologists,” it takes away from the team’s preparation and focus that Coach Pearson desires.
Junior second baseman Kehaulani Low describes the feeling of being ready to play and hearing the game has been cancelled or postponed as “tiring, exhausting and saddening.” “We get so excited to deliver a fun experience for Clark Atlanta University, and then the opportunity to perform for our peers and families gets taken away from us,” she said. Similarly, senior outfielder and first baseman Cailla Williams details the cancellation of games as “annoying, especially when you have your mind set to beat the opponent.” With players growing impatient with the consistent cancellations, it takes away from their attention on their craft.
However, Coach Pearson credits the way their schedule is built to her team’s focus and motivation despite the consistent cancellation of games. “We schedule a lot of games in preparation for rainouts. At the end of the day, we would love to play every game as scheduled, but we’re an outside sport so it’s not a surprise,” she said. Their schedule has many breaks in between games for postponements and cancellations. Although she has her team ready to play regardless of the circumstances, this is something Pearson has not seen in her 17 years of coaching. “I will say this is the first time in my 17 years of coaching that we have gone a whole month of February without playing a home game.”
In addition, Coach Pearson and her coaching staff prepare their team as they usually do despite the weather. “We deal with it as normal. We just plan for the reschedule and pray for great weather. In the meantime, we just keep practicing on the turf, until the time comes for us to play again,” she stated. This mentality has led the Lady Panthers to win games including at the HBCU Tournament in Sumter, S.C. on Feb. 21-23. The Lady Panthers defeated Bowie State University, 14-5, Virginia Union University, 3-2, and Lincoln University of Pennsylvania. This is a glimpse of what to see when CAU make their debut at Lady Panthers Softball Field.
Low has remained motivated and focused through determination. “The majority of the game of softball is mental, so in order to stay focused and motivated we have to find that determination within ourselves and within each other,” she said. In addition, she credits her coaches as a reason she stays motivated despite not playing at home. “The coaches have kept us prepared by having multiple pep talks to keep our spirits high, and we have just been consistently practicing and conditioning to stay game ready at all times.” Likewise, Williams says she and her teammates use the time when the games have been canceled to “improve [their] game and [to] keep that hunger alive and ready to play for the next game that's coming up.” With Coach Pearson and her staff’s constant reassurance and motivation to the team, this is a major contribution as to why the Lady Panthers stay driven to play despite not playing at home.
The Lady Panthers will play their first home game this season against Point University on March 9. “We will be ready,” Coach Pearson said. “It’s unfortunate it will be Spring Break, but we are already planning to invite out as many faculty, staff and students left on campus to support us.” Players on the team are relishing the moment when they finally step on their home field. “When March 9 comes, our energy will be so high due to the overall excitement of being able to invite people on campus and around campus to come see what Clark Atlanta Softball is all about,” Low said. “Playing home games just feels better because it showcases our talents to our own home campus, friends and family. We get to give our own friends and family the experience of our energy and the intensity of the game. Our families, friends and fans give us that extra fire to keep our aggressive and high-spirited energy at a 100 percent capacity.” Williams said, “It’s going to be exciting, especially because we have rescheduled this game twice. Since the majority of both teams are from Georgia, it'd be great for each family since they won't have to travel as far.” She described the impact that home field gives the team as “pretty big” because of the feeling that fans and families bring. “Fans can easily come watch and support at the home field instead of the difficulties of having to travel. The proud faces of family and friends seeing their loved one compete is truly a blessing,” she said.
The players on the team describe this team as a team filled with “very strong women,” who are “hungry for more” due to the lack of games played. Williams said, “I say these words because that's exactly what our team is. From the freshmen up to the seniors. Defensively, offensively and spiritually, we are strong.” The ultimate goal for this year’s CAU softball team according to Coach Pearson is to “win as many of our games as possible, play with unity and fight until the end” and to “ultimately win an SIAC conference title.”
This story has been originally published in Clark Atlanta University's student newspaper - the Panther. For inquiries, email James McJunkins: email@example.com