HBCU lands local student-athlete
Palmdale Knight HS student-athlete shortstop Taylor Pleasant signs with Mississippi Valley State U.
When Knight High School senior Taylor Pleasant started her softball career at age six, she was picking daisies in the outfield. Bored with the sport, she quit one year later to focus on karate. However, Pleasant’s interest in karate faded and she was back out on the baseball diamond. She never looked back and now the high school senior shortstop, one of the best softball players in the Antelope Valley in Palmdale, has accepted an athletic scholarship to play softball at Mississippi Valley State University. Lee Smith, the women’s head softball coach of the historically Black university located in Itta Bena, Mississippi offered his promise to take the young athlete’s best interests to heart.
“I tell the parents of any recruit pretty much the same thing,” Smith said. “Your child will go to class, go to church, get her degree, and play some softball along the way.”
Pleasant was worried that she would not get a scholarship to any university earlier this year. “(Getting the scholarship) took away a lot of stress,” the All-League shortstop said. Pleasant and her family can now focus on finishing out the school year and the softball season strong now that she has signed her National Letter of Intent with the HBCU (Historically Black College/University). A consistent hitter with a batting average of over .400, Pleasant is the only player on the Knight High School Girls’ softball team to receive a scholarship. Her teammates and coaches helped her to celebrate the occasion with a cake. The young infielder’s mother also expressed joy about her daughter’s college scholarship. “I’m happy for her,” Sheri Pleasant commented, “because it’s a long time coming for her.”
Mrs. Pleasant was especially impressed with MVSU coach Smith. “I like him being concerned with the players’ grades,” the shortstop’s mother said. “If kids are not doing well academically, he will call home to the parents. He is not of the mindset that, ‘They’re adults, that’s their responsibility.’ He views them as kids who still need guidance.”
Sheri Pleasant expressed her pride that Taylor has taken her school work seriously and has achieved good grades in high school. Academic achievement is an element stressed in the Pleasant family. “I have always told my kids that without good grades, life can be difficult,” the mother of four said.
Signing with the university is an important step for the Knight softball star. One of four children, the Knight softball star is the first of the siblings to leave Antelope Valley to go to college. Pleasant made the decision to play for Mississippi Valley after visiting the university in late March with her mother. Pleasant liked what the school and softball team had to offer. “When I went on the visit, I liked how the campus was really small,” the Knight senior commented. “It’s built in a circle, so it’s easier to find your classes.
“The team was really nice and fun,” Pleasant said. “And they took me to hang out with them.”
The elder Pleasant also liked the MVSU tour and believes Mississippi Valley is conducive to her daughter’s needs. “When she went, her eyes lit up,” Mrs. Pleasant said. “It was like she was home.”
What Mrs. Pleasant also found appealing was the classes were small and the graduation rate was high. The younger Pleasant had the opportunity to watch the MVSU women’s softball team play. She liked the quick style of softball that coach Smith employs. The Knight infielder indicated that she could blend into the Mississippi Valley system. “Their team is really fast and competitive,” Pleasant observed. “I feel I play better when I’m around people like them.
“ I think I’ll show more when I’m around tougher competition.”
The shortstop is not concerned about going to college far away from home. “Right now, I’m not too scared because I’ve traveled around by myself before,” Pleasant said. “I think it will be good for me to learn to live on my own.”
Taylor Pleasant’s decision to go to college out of state came as no surprise to Sheri Pleasant. “She’s the most independent of all my kids,” commented Mrs. Pleasant.
In the meantime, the AV softball player remains optimistic about the Knight High School Hawks’ chance of repeating as Golden League champions and looking forward to contributing to the team’s success. “I’m hoping we take league and I’m just hoping our team stays strong,” she says. “I care more about the team than just myself.”
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