Little League legend Mo’ne Davis to play softball at HU
It began with an email, which itself led to some confusion. It ended with Hampton University’s softball program signing a middle infielder who four years ago became a national celebrity.
Mo’ne Davis, who in the 2014 Little League World Series became the first girl to pitch a shutout, signed her letter-of-intent to play softball for the Pirates. She is currently a senior at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, where she also plays basketball.
HU coach Angela Nicholson said she was unaware Davis wanted to play college softball until a few months ago when the player contacted her.
“I was like, ‘Is this the same Mo’ne Davis?’ ” Nicholson said. “To be honest, I assumed she was going to play basketball. But she sent me an email, and I invited her to camp (in September).
“She came to camp, and she was phenomenal. That’s how it all started.”
Three months later, Nicholson was at her daughter’s basketball game when Davis sent a text: “Can you call me? It will only take a minute.”
Since Davis had just returned from an official visit to Bethune-Cookman and hadn’t been returning her messages, Nicholson had a bad feeling.
“I’m thinking, ‘Oh, man, she’s going to tell me no,’ ” Nicholson said. “So I went to the hallway to call her and said, ‘Hey, what’s up?’
“She said, ‘I’m sorry this has taken me a while, but I want to commit to Hampton University.’ And I said, ‘Wait, what?’ ”
At age 13, with a 70-mph fastball, Davis was the star of the Little League World Series with Taney Youth Baseball Association. In a 4-0 win over a Tennessee team, she struck out eight batters in six innings.
Afterward, she received congratulatory tweets from star athletes such as Mike Trout and Kevin Durant. She appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She was named one of “The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014” by Time Magazine.
Still, with all that attention at such a young age, Davis came to HU’s camp not wanting anyone to know who she was, Nicholson said.
“She just wanted to be like everybody else, nothing different or special,” Nicholson said. “Although everybody caught on to who she was. The little kids at camp were all taking selfies with her.
“But she worked her tail off like every kid and had fun. And truly, she looked good.”
Nicholson said Davis, who plans to major in journalism and communication, is strictly a middle infielder who does not pitch.
“As you could imagine, she has great hands and a great transfer,” Nicholson said. “She plays like a boy.
“Hitting-wise, she already has a nice lift on her ball and understands the concept of gap-to-gap. She has great mechanics and she’s fast. She’s very athletic.”
Nicholson understands that Davis’ signing will bring her program national attention
“Having Mo’ne is great,” she said. “I know she doesn’t want it to be about her, and neither do we. We want her to have a great experience and be like everybody else.
“But her status will come along with her. The press will come along with her, whether we want it or not. We’re blessed to have her and we’re excited for anything that will promote Hampton University.”
Dave Johnson, 757-247-4649, firstname.lastname@example.org, @DaveJohnsonDP