Black Her-Story: LSU Softball Stories, Trena Peel – The First to Do It
BATON ROUGE, La. – For Black History Month, LSU softball will honor its five African American All-American student-athletes. Every week, the program will not only reflect on the accomplishments these women made while apart of the program, but furthermore recognize where they are today and their continued contribution to the sport of softball.
Trena Prater, formerly Trena Peel during her days on campus, was an outfielder for the Tigers and sported the number 44 on the field. Peel became the program’s first African American All-American in 2001 and repeated her efforts in 2002 while also being tabbed as the 2002 SEC Player of the Year. Peel still holds numerous LSU records from her playing days from 1999-2002.
“I loved playing at LSU,” Peel said. “It was the time of my life. My heart still pumps Purple and Gold because of what my teammates and I were able to accomplish in the grassroots stage of this amazing program. I still carry with me how our team won four consecutive SEC Championships and I am honored to have helped create the championship culture that still stands today.”
In 2001, Peel batted .337 with 66 hits, 46 runs, 44 RBIs, nine home runs and 22 stolen bases. The following season, Peel hit .361 at the dish behind 79 hits which included 14 triples that lead the nation that season and is currently the program record for the most triples in a single season. Peel is the program’s record holder with 273 starts and 27 triples. She also ranks No. 6 all-time with 425 total bases, No. 8 with 173 runs, No. 9 with 269 hits, and No. 10 with 144 RBIs.
Growing up, Peel has always been the best player on her teams. Her thought process to come to LSU was to be challenged to not be the best player on the team. It was one other factor however that stood head and shoulders above the rest and cemented her decision to play for the Fighting Tigers.
“When I came to college it was the first time I played with another black player. My roommate was Dee Douglas and we later brought on Aleshia Perry, Camille Harris, and LaDonia Hughes. For me, that was one of the biggest reasons I chose LSU. To play with a person who looks like me. I loved that we were able to bring diversity to our teams.”
While playing at LSU, Peel also played for the USA Junior Olympic Softball Team. Ultimately, she graduated from LSU and went on to play softball professionally for various teams in the National Pro Fastpitch league. Peel played for the Akron Racers (2004, 2008-2009), the New York Juggernauts (2005), the Chicago Bandits (2006), and the Philadelphia Force (2007).
Peel’s coaching career got started immediately after college when she joined LSU Hall of Fame Coach Yvette Girouard as a student assistant. She then went to George Washington University as an assistant before stepping out of coaching to focus on her professional playing career. When it was time to hang up the cleats, she took several assistant positions before becoming the Head Coach at Hampton University at the age of 30. Peel took the Pirates program to its first NCAA Regional Tournament in 2013 before taking the reins at Buffalo from 2014-2017. After Buffalo, Peel spent one season as an assistant at UCF and three seasons at Iowa in the same role. Peel was promoted to Associate Head Coach at Iowa in her fourth season before getting her next head coaching opportunity at Campbell University where she currently coaches.
“LSU taught me how to be a champion day in and day out from practices, to games, to tournaments. Many of the lessons I learned in Baton Rouge are priceless and effected not just my professional playing career, but also the way I coach today. I try to instill in my players things that Coach Girouard tried to instill in us.
It gives me goosebumps to know that I was the first African American All-American for the LSU program and see how many have come after me. It deepens my connection to this program but overall, I love that I still see color on rosters across the nation and how many more of those players are there than when I played. I love where softball is going and how diverse it has become.”