TALLAHASEE, Fla. (April 6, 2018) – North Carolina A&T softball may not have gotten a win in front of a national-television audience but that was not important as earning a doubleheader split against four-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Florida A&M on Friday at Lady Rattler Softball Complex.
After losing 9-2 in a nationally-televised game on ESPNU in the first game, the Aggies recovered and took down the Rattlers 6-2 in Game 2. The Aggies (7-26, 4-4 MEAC) handed the Rattlers (15-22, 7-1 MEAC) their first conference loss of the season and in the process snapped an eight-game losing streak to FAMU.
N.C. A&T got a chance to play in their first nationally-televised game in seven years. Originally, the two teams were supposed to play a single game on Friday. But
Friday’s second game is where the Aggies prospered. In fact, one inning stood out over the rest. The Aggies recorded a six-run fifth, the most runs they have scored in an inning this season, to take control of the game. N.C. A&T’s outburst came after the Rattlers took a 1-0 lead on a Hera Varmah RBI double that scored Yuri Hampton in the Rattlers half of the fourth.
But it was FAMU who started the fun in the fifth for the Aggies as senior Talisha Jenkins reached on a Rattlers error with one out. That quickly into a bases-loaded situation when junior Zadia Davis singled and freshman Hailee Cutts walked. Junior Zadaisha Waddell made the second out when grounded out to first, but she did earn an RBI as Jenkins scored the unearned run to tie the game at 1.
Back-to-back walks to senior Nathaly Pacheco and sophomore Stephanie Williams forced in a run as Davis scored to give the Aggies a 2-1 lead. FAMU starter Veronica Burse continued to struggle as she registered walk No. 4 of the inning when she gave freshman Marcey Jiles a free pass to force in another run as Cutts crossed the plate.
Another run in the fifth was produced without the benefit of an RBI when Pacheco scored on a passed ball to give the Aggies a 4-1 advantage. The Aggies finally got their clutch hit when junior Mohagony Headen hit a two-run RBI double to score Jiles and Williams for the fifth and sixth runs of the inning. The damage could have been worse as the Aggies re-loaded the bases when freshman Nijah McCray and Jenkins singled. But Headen was thrown trying to come home on an errant pitch from Burse.
FAMU did add another run when Headen, the Aggies starter in the circle in Game 2, forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk. That was one of the few mishaps Headen had in the circle on Friday.
She pitched a complete game giving up nine hits, two runs while striking out five and walking three to improve to 4-5. Burse (5-13) took the loss. Pacheco led the Aggies offensively by going 2-for-3 with a run scored. McCray also had two hits to record her third multiple-hit game of the season.
N.C. A&T produced only four hits in the first game. McCray got one of those hits to finish the day a combined 3-for-7. Senior Raven Gray, Headen and Davis also had hits.
FAMU jumped out to a 6-0 lead over the first four innings thanks in part to three N.C. A&T errors. N.C. A&T did get on the board in their fifth. Sophomore pinch runner Taylor Martin and freshman Azaria Isbell made long trips around the bases when Bell hit a harmless groundball to second. But a bad throw to first did damage as Isbell reached. The Rattlers compounded the mistake with a bad throw out of right field as Martin scored from first and Isbell rounded the bases on the errant throw to cut the Rattles lead to 6-2.
But a Rattlers three-run sixth highlighted by a two-run homer from