Aggies Qualify For Tourney By Beating NCCU
GREENSBORO - Rain fell from the sky in a downpour as the North Carolina A&T softball team tried to play the second game of its Saturday doubleheader against archrival N.C. Central.
Before the field at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex was drenched, the Aggies obtained what they needed. The Aggies defeated the Eagles 6-1 in the first game to secure a tournament berth in the 2012 MEAC Softball Tournament to be held in Daytona Beach, Fla., May 10-12.
The second game was postponed until Sunday when the Aggies and the Eagles begin play at 10:30 a.m., in the bottom of the second with Raven Smith at the plate with a 1-0 count. After completing game two of the series, the two teams will play the series finale.
Even with two remaining games on the schedule, by virtue of a season sweep of S.C. State earlier this season, the Aggies (14-32, 6-7) are promised the No. 4 seed out of the MEAC Southern Division. It is a good place to be, considering the top four teams from each division - North and South - are awarded tournament bids.
Sophomore third baseman Tranea Jones led the way for the Aggies by going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI. Leadoff hitter Dominique Smith also added two hits and two runs scored. Aurora Baker provided the Eagles (3-44, 0-12) with their only run on the day, a solo home run to left field in the seventh inning.
Outside of Baker's blast, A&T starter Ashira Dobison (13-17) was phenomenal. It took her only 76 pitches to strikeout six Eagles, while surrendering just one run, one walk and four hits. The one downside for the Aggies was sophomore first baseman Juanita Jernigan re-injuring her hamstring after trying to beat out a slow grounder to third base in the third inning.
Everything else went according to plan. The Aggies jumped out to an early lead and then used its defense to finish off the Eagles.
Jones drove in the first Aggies run when she doubled down the left field line to score Smith, who reached on fielding error by NCCU second baseman Martha Batie. Two more Aggies reached base as sophomore catcher Sabrina Edmonds was hit by a pitch and Jernigan advanced to first on another NCCU error. With the bases loaded, Raven Smith grounded out to second to score Jones for a 2-0 Aggies lead.
A&T took over the game in the second. A pair of infield singles by Hope Fletcher and Dominique Smith, led to a bizarre play after Detavia Kenan singled to right field. After picking up the Kenan single, NCCU right fielder Nadia Jeffries made an errant throw to center fielder Kayla McPeek. Kenan's single allowed Fletcher to score, and the unusual act from Jeffries brought home Dominique Smith for a 4-0 Aggies advantage.
Jones finished off the scoring in the second with a solo homer to left. It was Jones' fourth home run of the season. Sophomore Tiffany Macklin closed out the Aggies scoring with an RBI single in the third.
Dobison was dominant after running into some second inning problems that saw the Aggies commit two errors. She didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, and 50 of the 76 pitches she threw were strikes. The Aggie ace also benefited from two outstanding defensive plays as Dominique Smith made a spectacular catch at the warning track in center field, and Kenan made a running catch on a line drive hit by Sarah Kaiser in the sixth inning.
Rain is expected for the early morning hours on Sunday before clearing out so that the Aggies can complete their regular-season schedule.