Former Lady Warrior caps great Benedict career

Published 7:16 pm Thursday, April 28, 2011

Benedict senior Charae Rice leads NCAA, Division II this softball season, and will likely finish the season leading, with a .537 batting average, a .660 on-base percentage and a 1.120 slugging percentage. Rice leads the nation in RBI per game and is among the national leaders in runs per game, doubles and home runs. Rice played at Nansemond River, Bennett’s Creek and with the Hampton Roads Vipers prior to her Benedict career.

Charae Rice was clearly one of the best sluggers in all of college softball heading into this softball season, her senior season, with Benedict College.

Rice, a Nansemond River alum, led the nation or was near the top in a multitude of offensive categories as a junior.


“You have to go out with a bang. You can’t afford to stop working. Every year you’ve got to do better,” Rice said.

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With more offseason work than ever, even after being a national leader and setting school records, Rice more than held up that bargain this season with the Lady Tigers.

Rice’s season came to a close last weekend in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, but she currently leads the nation in NCAA, Division II in batting average (.537), on-base percentage (.660), slugging percentage (1.120) and runs batted in per game (67 RBI in 40 games).

Rice, a Columbia, S.C. native at the Columbia school, made it back-to-back seasons leading the nation in batting average. That crown is the one she’s taking the most pride in.

“It’s just a product of hitting and practicing,” Rice said, “of working on my weaknesses all through the offseason.”

Rice hit .545 and slugged .950 last spring, so it would be easy for some to wonder “What weaknesses?”

Getting to outside pitches and being equally dangerous was one such weakness though, said Rice, and simply improving wasn’t the goal.

“It was working on my weaknesses and making them my strengths,” Rice said.

In the SIAC Tournament, in Columbus, Ga., Benedict bowed out in two games, finishing the season 24-16.

Opponents intentionally walked Rice throughout the tournament. Giving Rice one base instead of four became a usual strategy through the last two years.

Rice’s slugging percentage included 17 doubles and 14 home runs this season. She’s third nationally in runs scored per game (58 runs in 40 games). Playing third base or shortstop for the Lady Tigers, Rice finished the season with a .992 fielding percentage. Rice was the SIAC Player of the Year.

Growing up in Suffolk, Rice played at Bennett’s Creek Little League before her Lady Warrior years. She played travel softball for the Hampton Roads Vipers.

One of Rice’s Viper and Lady Warrior teammates was Kelsei Saunders, now on Hampton University’s softball team.

“We keep in touch. A lot of us (from the Vipers) are graduating this year which is great,” Rice said.

The student part of student-athlete is another category Rice takes plenty of pride in. She’s nearing a degree in Child and Family Development.

“You have to balance school work with everything else. You have to have an open line of communication with all your teachers,” Rice said.

With the season done and exams approaching, softball takes a backseat for the moment, but Rice plans on staying in the sport in some way.

Playing, perhaps professionally, perhaps not, is one possibility. Coaching is another.

“I know I can’t cut it off totally,” Rice said.