Claflin softball sweeps CIAA postseason honors

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In its first season in the Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association, the Claflin University softball team swept the CIAA postseason top honors and dominated the All-Conference Teams.

The honors, voted on by the CIAA Softball Coaches Association and Sports Information Directors Association, were announced on Monday by the league office.

Senior first baseman Kayla Cato was named the CIAA Player of the Year and earned First Team honors while freshman Shaniya Thomas earned the Rookie of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, First Team and All-Rookie Team honors. 

James "Marty" Kinard of Claflin University was named Coach of the Year. In their inaugural CIAA season, Kinard led the Panthers to an undefeated record of 18-0 in conference during the regular season to win the CIAA Southern Division title.

LaKaylin Lee rounded out the All-CIAA First Team selections for the Lady Panthers.

Claflin led the conference with eight All-CIAA selections including five All-CIAA Second Team selections. Earning Second Team honors were catcher Marion Goins, third base Jada Ames, shortstop Kaela Robinson, outfield Ashley Thomas, and designated player Chaston Huntly. Goins, Thomas, Huntly along with Bre’Zhay Chambers were also named to the All-Rookie team.

Cato, a native of Decatur, GA, who was the team leader all season, earning three CIAA Offensive Player of the Week Honors and two CIAA Defensive Player of the Week honors during the season. She finished the regular season with a .408 batting average and a .835 slugging percentage while recording 58 runs batted in (RBI), 54 hits, and 51 runs scored in 48 games. Her total RBI, hits, and runs scored were the most by a CIAA player this season while her 11 total home runs tied for first. In CIAA contests, the senior first baseman registered 35 RBI and a 1.245 slugging percentage, both of which ranked first in the league, while finishing second with six home runs and tied for first with 10 doubles. Cato also finished third with 27 hits and fourth in triples with three in league play while going a perfect 12-for-12 on stolen bases during the regular season, including eight in CIAA games which tied for 10th-best. Defensively, her 284 putouts and .993 fielding percentage in all games were tops in the CIAA this season.

Thomas was impressive in her first collegiate season, as she finished the regular season with a 12-1 record while leading all CIAA pitchers with a 2.07 earned run average (ERA), a .185 opposing batting average (OBA), and 114 strikeouts in 101 innings. Her 12 total wins were second-most by a pitcher in the conference this season. In CIAA games pitched, the Jefferson, SC native had a league-leading eight wins and six saves, ranked second in strikeouts with 62 and OBA at .138 while her 1.30 ERA was third-best in league play.

Complete List of CIAA All-Conference Teams


Pitcher Shaniya Thomas, Claflin

Catcher Evelyn Arguelles, Johnson C. Smith

First Base Kayla Cato, Claflin

Second Base Daijah Chambers, Winston-Salem State

Third Base Brittany Parson, Chowan

Shortstop Miranda Glover, Chowan

Outfield Shauntaja Dedecker, Winston-Salem State

Outfield LaKaylin Lee, Claflin

Outfield Destiny Snipes, Winston-Salem State

Designated Player Erica Davis, Winston-Salem State

Utility Player Makayla August, Saint Augustine’s



Pitcher Tia Robinson, Winston-Salem State

Catcher Marion Goins, Claflin

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First Base Beth Walker, Chowan

Second Base Haley Cooper, Chowan

Third Base Jada Ames, Claflin

Shortstop Kaela Robinson, Claflin

Outfield Ashley Thomas, Claflin

Outfield Hannah Naifeh, Chowan

Outfield Nyla Howard, Winston-Salem State

Designated Player Chaston Huntly, Claflin

Utility Player Madison Mendoza, Fayetteville State



Jessie Gentry, Chowan

Marion Goins, Claflin

Alleigh Himes, Winston-Salem State

Aniyah Jones, Winston-Salem State

Bre’Zhay Chambers, Claflin

Shaniya Thomas, Claflin

Hannah Naifeh, Chowan

Chaston Huntly, Claflin

Ashley Thomas, Claflin

Player of the Year – Kayla Cato, Claflin

Pitcher of the Year – Shaniya Thomas, Claflin

Rookie of the Year – Shaniya Thomas, Claflin

Coach of the Year – Marty Kinard, Claflin

Dr. Freddie Vaughns Highest Team Academic Award (Highest Team GPA) - Chowan University

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