GREENSBORO – Conference play seems to suit the North Carolina A&T softball team well. The Aggies put together 12 hits and took advantage of nine free passes from Savannah State pitching in a 13-5 win over the Tigers at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex on Sunday.
The Aggies (6-24, 4-5 MEAC) took two out of three from the Tigers (21-16, 5-4 MEAC), putting A&T in a fierce battle for the fourth and final MEAC tournament spot out of the Southern Division.
“Well it’s about time,” said A&T head coach Mamie Jones in response to how well her team is hitting the ball lately. “I knew we had a lineup with some pretty good power, it was just a matter of us living up to our potential. We can’t afford to get relaxed because we still have some important conference games ahead.”
Out of the 11 Aggies who have played at least six conference games this season, six of them are hitting better than .300. Over the weekend, the Aggies hit five home runs, with Jax Kaye Woodard hitting three of them.
She went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a homer on Sunday. Detavia Kenan also had a big afternoon, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI. Sabrina Edmonds, Amari McNeil and Alexiss Dominguez all had two RBI apiece.
A&T took over the game in the fourth inning. Woodard led off with her seventh home run of the season, a solo shot over the center field fence. Savannah State starter Amanda McDowell then ran into control issues. She walked Sabrina Edmonds, who was replaced by pinch runner Tiffany Macklin. Macklin moved into scoring position after a sacrifice by Tranea Jones.
Macklin eventually stole third base, and after retiring Raven Smith, McDowell walked McNeil and put her into scoring position with a wild pitch. Dominguez, the Aggies designated hitter, took advantage of McDowell’s generosity by hitting a two-run RBI single to center field for a 9-5 Aggies lead.
McDowell then walked her third batter of the inning as Zabresha Blakeney went to first on a low 3-2 pitch. Kenan loaded the bases with a single, leading to another A&T run as McDowell hit Alejandra Barcenas with a 2-1 pitch. Woodard followed with her second RBI of the inning as her single to center field scored Blakeney. Edmonds closed out the scoring in inning No. 4 with an RBI single to give the Aggies a 12-5 lead.
The game came to an end in the bottom of the fifth after Smith reached on an error and scored from first on an RBI double from McNeil. Collegiate softball games end any time after five innings if a team holds an 8-run lead or higher.
Senior pitcher Ashira Dobison, who was honored before the game on the Aggies Senior Day, picked up her first win of the season. She was replaced in the fourth inning by Shelby Snyder after running into trouble. She surrendered a grand slam that cut the Aggies lead to 6-5 and then gave up a double to Torrian Wright, leading to Snyder’s appearance.
Snyder got Madison Hedderly to hit a pop fly behind home plate. Edmonds, the Aggies catcher, secured the harmless pop to end the inning. Snyder returned to the mound in the top of the fifth to retire the Tigers in order.
In addition to celebrating Dobison’s accomplishments as a senior, the Aggies also honored nursing major Raven Smith for having the highest grade point average – 3.78 – on the team.
The Aggies will play their final home doubleheader of the season on Tuesday when they face Gardner-Webb at 2 p.m. Their next opportunity to play a conference opponent will come on April 20 when the Aggies travel to Daytona Beach, Fla., to face Bethune-Cookman in a 1 p.m., doubleheader.