Nashville --- The Tennessee State University softball team will officially kick-off the 2011 season at the fourth annual Tiny Laster HBCU classic this weekend in Conyers, Georgia.
The three-day event, named in honor of Hampton University's legendary softball and volleyball coach, will be held February 12 through 14, 2011, at the Earl O'Neal Sports Complex, located at 2709 Old Covington Road, Conyers, Georgia.
Teams from eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) representing the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) will participate in an inter-conference round robin tournament.
The Tigers will face four schools from the MEAC : South Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T, Hampton University and Florida A&M.
TSU will face South Carolina State in the opening game of the tournament on Saturday at 1 p.m. before the Tigers take on North Carolina A&T at 3 p.m.
South Carolina State was predicted to finish fourth in the Southern Division of the MEAC preseason poll. Last year the Bulldogs finished with an overall record of 9-43, winning one of their last three games.
North Carolina A&T was selected to finish third in the Southern Division of the MEAC after finishing last year with an overall record of 27-26.
On Sunday, TSU will match-up with Hampton University in the morning game at 10 a.m. before competing against Florida A&M in the afternoon game.
Hampton University, the only school from the Northern Division of the MEAC that TSU will face was picked to finish third in a preseason poll. The Lady Pirates are led by preseason selection Kelsei Saunders. HU finished last season with an overall record of 21-38.
Florida A&M was picked to finish second in the Southern Division of the MEAC. The 2009 MEAC Champions are led by preseason selection Jasmine Donaldson. The Rattlers concluded the 2010 season with an overall record of 30-24.
North Carolina A&T State University has dominated this tournament for the past two years posting a perfect 8-0 record. During the life span of this tournament, the MEAC and SWAC have split years in collecting the most wins for the tournament.
Tennessee State was scheduled to participate in the Tiny Laster tournament last year but it was canceled due to the inclement weather in the Georgia area.
Under first year head coach Jeff Dabney, Tennessee State returned nine letterwinners from last year's team that finished 11-34 and added seven newcomers to the squad. Among the key returners include seniors Caitlin Eaton and Brittany Webb.
Eaton and Webb were the offensive leaders for the Tigers for the majority of last season. They led TSU in the categories of batting average, hits, doubles and runs batted in.