Wildcats Baseball and Softball Teams Record Record-Breaking Seasons

Bethune-Cookman University Softball Head Coach – and the winningest coach in school history for all sports – Laura Watten earned her 500th victory at the helm in Daytona Beach on the heels of a SWAC series-opening 10-2 decision over Alabama State at Sunnyland Park on March 15, 2024. A few weeks later on April 5, 2024, the Wildcats baseball team secured their 100th win under the leadership of head coach Jonathan Hernandez, making him the fifth-winningest coach in Wildcats baseball history.

“B-CU Athletics makes history all the time, but it’s not common to find two record breakers in two sports already well-established as the winningest sports for the Cats…in the same season…just two weekends apart,” said Bryce Hoynoski, B-CU’s Director of Athletic Communications. “But that’s exactly what Hernandez and Watten have done in both established and establishing legendary careers in Daytona Beach. And for the future, there’s only more HIS-story and HER-story to be made with these two in charge. It’s been said “Heroes get remembered, but Legends never die.”

Watten is certainly in the conversation for Hall of Fame induction in the sport. The 2022 SWAC Softball Coach of the Year veteran is just 15 wins away from number 800 all-time, including her stint at the University Maryland. She has coached a total of 15 NFCA All-Region players, as well as 15 All-ACC selections – eight of which landed on the first team. Watten has coached one SWAC Pitcher & Freshman of the Year in Hannah Ortega (2022), three MEAC Player of the Year student-athletes and two MEAC Pitcher of the Year selections. She has also been named MEAC Coach of the Year five times – in 2001, ’02, ’03 and ’05, before serving as head coach of the Terrapins from 2006-14. Watten accumulated a record of 291-263 at Maryland, securing three consecutive NCAA Regionals appearances – a feat never before accomplished in College Park.

But it was at Bethune-Cookman in her first stint with the Wildcats where she achieved a feat never before or since achieved for any HBCU softball program. The 2005 B-CU softball season still stands as the greatest season in school history, as the Wildcats became the first school in MEAC history to win an NCAA Regional. The Wildcats swept through the NCAA South Regional in Gainesville, Florida, advancing to the NCAA Super Regional in Austin, Texas.

After softball, baseball is the school’s most decorated sport.

When Hernandez arrived at Bethune-Cookman University in 2018 as head coach of the men’s baseball team, he was taking over an historic program. The previous year, the team made it to the NCAA Regional final in Gainesville, FL – the first time a team from an historically Black college or university (HBCU) made it the regional final. They fell to the eventual national champions, but the bar for excellence had been set.

In 2019, Hernandez brought in his first recruiting class – the most accomplished incoming class in school history. Then COVID-19 hit, and the team fought through unprecedented circumstances and a truncated season in 2020, followed by an entire season without baseball in 2021. But when they returned to the field in 2022, Hernandez helped lead the team to his first Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) title game in 2022. In terms of games coached, only Bethune-Cookman Athletics Hall of Fame member Mervyl Melendez (2000-2012) and Jason Beverlin (2012-17) reached 100 wins faster. Now, the Miami, Florida, native eyes further history, seeking to surpass Don Dungee (1979-84) on the all-time wins list, needing just two more victories to achieve that distinction.
“Hernandez has truly earned each and every victory for the Maroon and Gold, culminating in win number 100 on April 5, 2024,” said Hoynoski