JMU’s Oddici Continues At Women’s College World Series

JMU’s Oddici Continues At Women’s College World Series

Oddici Alexander has led James Madison University to the NCAA Women’s College Softball World Series with the type of dominance that conjures memories of Mamie Peanut Johnson.

Alexander is the heart and soul of the JMU team that advanced through its regional and made its way to USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City after beating Oklahoma State and the University of Oklahoma in the school’s first-ever trip to college softball’s biggest show.

During the regular season, Alexander had 16 wins and a 1.14 ERA. She pitched two no-hitters, including one perfect game. She has stepped up during this year’s tournament and slammed the door on major conference powers; Missouri, Tennessee, now Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

 

 

Alexander continued her dominance on Friday night over seventh-ranked Oklahoma State in a dramatic win that improved her season record to 18-1. James Madison became the first unseeded team to win two games in the WCWS, a victory that featured a spectacular play by Alexander that kept Oklahoma State from tying the game in its last at-bat.

James Madison will move on to face the winner of UCLA vs. the winner of Georgia/Alabama on Sunday at 1 pm on ESPN.

Grisham & Pham Are Ministers of Defense Leading Padres To First Place In The NL West

Grisham & Pham Are Ministers of Defense Leading Padres To First Place In The NL West

It is not “Angels in the Outfield” helping the San Diego Padres (29-17) to a first-place record in a loaded National League West Division. It’s two Brothas in the outfield, sorry Kevin Costner.

Those MLBbros are centerfielder Trent Grisham and left fielder Tommy Pham who are leading the Padres to the top of their division, making key contributions that might be going under the radar. 

The N.L West is one of the best divisions in baseball with three teams at the top of the entire league; the Padres, Giants, and 2020 World Season Champion Dodgers. The Padres are getting it done on the mound as well, ranking first in strikeouts per nine innings. If all three teams stay the course, they will have their sub-regional in the playoffs. 

“Offense wins games and defense wins championships” is one very popular expression. Trenton “Gresh” Grisham 24, from Burleson, TX is one of the leaders in defense for the Padres and in 2020 was one of the 12 best defenders in all of baseball, obtaining a Gold Glove for his defensive efforts. 

He has continued that trend into 2021 and combined with Tommy Pham and right-fielder Will Myers, the Padres outfield is another defensive lock. Grish is also batting .301 and is giving the Padres enough firepower offensively. 

 

Meet Trent Grisham, The Padres Star No One Is Talking About

 

Thomas “Phamtastic” Pham 33, from Las Vegas, NV is the other anchor in the Padres outfield and is playing well despite coming back from injuries suffered in 2020 that still somewhat hinder him to this day. In October, Pham was stabbed in the back after leaving a club. 

 

 

That injury coupled with a wrist injury might be impeding his ability to hit the ball well at this moment and his batting average is .195, but the MLB season is long and he has plenty of time to improve upon that statistic. His veteran leadership is going to be something that the young, ambitious Padres will need if they want to make a deeper postseason run this season. 

The outfield superheroes were not affected by the recent Covid-19 outbreak that hit the Padres and they were spared from catching the virus. The only downside to the Padres defense is that they lead MLB with over 22 errors and they will need to shore that up if they want to make a serious run at a World Series title. 

In baseball, you need a strong infield and an even stronger outfield because you have more ground to cover and you have to turn on the jets with regularity. The Padres have some burners in the outfield. 

Manager Jayce Tingler noted that Pham is “special” and “competitive in everything that he does.” Pham is also always looking to improve at any opportunity. The steady veteran is looking for a shot at a title.

The second-year Grisham is not only an amazing defender, he’s a strong on-base weapon atop San Diego’s lineup. He’s clearly a long-term solution and future superstar of the Padres outfield. Together they make up an outfield that’s as stingy as Scrooge on Christmas. 

 Keep your eye out on these players because it’s going to be a shootout in the wild wild west come playoffs.

Black Knight Face Off: Triston McKenzie and Justus Sheffield Clash On The Bump 

Black Knight Face Off: Triston McKenzie and Justus Sheffield Clash On The Bump 

If you love pitching, there was an exciting matchup on Saturday night in Seattle between two MLBbros who are the future of baseball in a position that is not dominated by “The Culture.”  

The Cleveland Indians featured their 23-year-old right-hander Triston “T Eazy” McKenzie and the Seattle Mariners, who won the game 7-3, countered with another melanated mound marauder in southpaw Justus “Topsheff” Sheffield. 

Both pitchers started in the Indians organization and are important parts of their respective rotations this season and have shown signs of brilliance and also laid some stinkers, which is a natural progression for young arms. Sheffield is just 25. 

 

 

Sheffield got the best of McKenzie in this matchup as Triston surrendered five runs in four innings and left trailing 5-0. He did strike out six batters which suggests that he had good stuff but was just missing on certain pitches. 

Justus Sheffield hailing from Tullahoma, TN has baseball DNA in the blood. He is the brother of Jordan Sheffield, a right-handed pitcher with the Colorado Rockies, and is also the cousin to former MLB player Tony Sheffield.  

He was in command through six innings against the Cleveland Indians lineup, allowing just two runs on five hits and striking out two.  

T-Eazy Is On The Come Up 

Triston is the fifth starter on what is arguably one of the best pitching rotations in baseball. The Brooklyn, NY native was drafted by the Indians in 2015. He was deemed one of the best pitching prospects by MLB Pipeline in 2019 but was unable to pitch that season due to injury. 

McKenzie stands at 6’5″ 170 pounds and generated a lot of buzz in his major league debut in 2020 against the Detroit Tigers, striking out 10 batters in his first six innings. 

He entered Cleveland’s record books with the second-most strikeouts in his first major league start. He finished the shortened and unprecedented 2020 MLB season with a record of 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA over 33.1 innings pitched.

 

This season, T Eazy is off to a slow start, with an ERA close to five. The electric stuff is there, he’s just got to learn how to put it all together. How to pitch.

He made one bad pitch to Dylan Moore in the fourth inning on Saturday, which resulted in a three-run homer. 

 

 

He met a similar fate against the Chicago White Sox on May 1st, 2021.  McKenzie struck out six batters and gave up only one hit, the one hit was a Grand Slam to Tim Anderson.  McKenzie was pulled after two innings after he threw 57 pitches and walked four. 

Justus Sheffield Puts The Clamps On Cleveland 

Sheffield was the 31st pick in the first round, of the Cleveland Indians in 2015, one year before Triston McKenzie was drafted by the same organization.  Justus spent time in the Yankees organization for a season but has found a home with the Seattle Mariners. 

The 25-year-old stands at 5’10”, and weighs 195 lbs. He is the third man in a six-man pitching rotation that features another black hurler, Justin Dunn.  

Justus had a successful rookie campaign in 2020 finishing 4-3, with a 3.58 ERA over 55.1 innings pitched.  Seattle is excited about their pitcher who is finding his stride after Covid ravaged the 2020 season and hampered the development of many major leaguers.  

 

 

Justus came into the season with some personal goals for the 2021 season. The goals for Topsheff were perfecting his changeup and to last six innings of every start, a goal that he reached six times out of 10 outings in 2020.  

He reached that goal on Saturday night. 

Baseball is known for its stats and two black starting pitchers facing each other is a rare one indeed. This isn’t the last time these two bruthas will clash. Tristan and Justus will once again have the opportunity to make the ancestors proud by putting on a show and allowing the world to see what these Black arms can do. 

I can assure you that little Black boys will watch tonight’s game and see “Black Excellence” on display and know that one day, they can be a pitcher in Major League Baseball too.