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Mo’ne Davis chooses Hampton University to play softball because ‘everything felt right’

For the 2014 Little League star, the HBCU brings balance into her life

Mo’ne Davis, who hurled her way into the annals of the Little League World Series and the hearts of the sports world as a pitcher for the Taney Dragons of South Philadelphia four years ago, has decided she will attend Hampton University next fall.

“It’s a big relief,” said Davis, who will play softball at Hampton. “A lot of people have been asking me where I was going. It feels great to finally commit somewhere. It just feels so good.”

Davis, who used a 70 mph-plus fastball to become the first girl to win a Little League World Series game as a pitcher and the first girl to toss a shutout in Little League postseason history, selected Hampton over Bethune-Cookman University, Southern University, Coppin State University and the University of Pennsylvania. She signed a national letter of intent with Hampton on Tuesday.

“The campus is beautiful,” said Davis, who was interviewed Tuesday. “The girls on the team are amazing. The coaches are amazing. It just kind of felt like home, which is what you look for in a school. Everything felt right. Since I’m spending my next four years there, I have to be comfortable.”

Hampton’s proximity to Philadelphia pleases her mother, Lakeisha Williams.

“It’s only about six hours away,” she said. “We know people down there, so that’s a very good feeling.”

“The campus is beautiful. The girls on the team are amazing. The coaches are amazing. It just kind of felt like home, which is what you look for in a school.” — Mo’ne Davis

Her father, Mark Williams, is also relieved that a decision has been made.

“Now she can enjoy her senior year and not have to think about where she’s going to school,” he said. “It was a tough decision, but she made the decision that she felt was best for her.”

Davis is a three-sport star at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, where she plays soccer, basketball and softball.

In baseball, she is a force on the mound but can aptly play any position. She enjoys playing shortstop. In softball, she prefers playing shortstop and any other position except pitcher.

“The arm motion is completely different when you’re pitching in baseball as opposed to when you’re pitching in softball,” she said. “In baseball, I’m more comfortable. I feel like I’m in control. I feel very confident. All I have to do is throw strikes. I know that my teammates are behind me and that they’re going to make plays.”

Davis said she wanted to attend a historically black college or university (HBCU) institution.

“I chose [an HBCU] because it’s going to be a change from the schools I’ve been going to,” she said.

“The school I go to now is a predominantly white school. To go to an HBCU, it gives me both sides, experience of being with girls of color [after going to school] with white girls, it gives that balance. I just think it gives me that perfect fit. All of my friends who go to an HBCU love it and they said that I would love it, too.”

Given her celebrity status, Davis’ collegiate choice could be a boon for HBCUs.

“Mo’ne is such a inspiration,” said Steve Bandura, Davis’ baseball coach on the Anderson Monarchs. “She’s a role model for many young girls. She’s a motivator and a leader.

“The thing about her is that she doesn’t have an ego. She doesn’t brag about what she’s done. She’s aware of her accomplishments but she’s extremely humble.”

Since her Little League World Series showing, Davis has attained notoriety. Time magazine named her one of The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014. Sports Illustrated Kids named her SportsKid of the Year for 2014. Famed film director Spike Lee directed and produced a documentary about her titled Mo’ne Davis: I Throw Like a Girl. American League MVP Mike Trout and NBA MVP Kevin Durant sent her congratulatory messages.

She participated in the 2015 NBA Celebrity All-Star Game in New York and released a memoir in 2015 that was written with Hilary Beard, Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name: My Story from First Pitch to Game Changer. And to top it all off, she received words of encouragement from then-President Barack Obama and the first lady Michelle Obama.

She’s won an ESPY award and has even found time to play hoops with the famed Harlem Globetrotters.

Davis, who said basketball was her first love, mentioned that she may still play the sport occasionally.

“I may throw up a shot or two sometimes,” said Davis. “It was my first love.”

Daryl Bell is the assistant news editor and columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune. He's a veteran journalist who has covered every major sport, and many minor ones.