CARY – North Carolina A&T lost a lead late in the first game and was not able to overcome a lead in the second game as archrival N.C. Central swept a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) softball doubleheader over the Aggies Saturday afternoon, 3-2 in 10 innings and 7-5 at Thomas Brooks Park.
The two losses were the Aggies (8-28, 5-9 MEAC) eighth straight in conference play. The Aggies are still in good standing for being one of the four teams from the MEAC Southern Division to qualify for the MEAC Softball Championship Tournament, May 8-11.
N.C. A&T will play their regular-season finale against the Eagles (19-24, 9-5 MEAC) noon Sunday at Thomas Brooks Park.
In Saturday’s first game, N.C. A&T senior starter Zadaisha Waddell and N.C. Central starter Kiara Hurley were spectacular for their respective teams in the circle. Waddell pitched eight innings, had three strikeouts, three walks and gave up eight hits on two runs. Hurley (14-13) got the complete-game 10-inning win after only giving up three hits, no walks, no earned runs and striking out seven.
Despite Hurley’s strong showing, the Aggies held a 2-0 lead going into the NCCU’s half of the seventh. But Aleyah Evans homered to right-center field off Waddell to open the frame cutting the Aggies lead to 2-1.
With one out, Claire Eosso’s hit a one-out pinch-hit single through the right side. She was replaced on the basepaths by Miriam Duen. The Eagles eventually loaded the bases with Duen, Jacobia Johnson and Nadia Blevins. With the bases loaded and one out, Dalika Wallace hit a groundball to Aggie shortstop Alyssa Smith.
Smith fired home and forced out Duen to preserve the Aggies lead at 2-1. But an infield single from Olivia Dunn led to Johnson tying the game at 2 to send the game into extra innings.
The two teams played until the 10th when a runner was automatically placed on second to start the frame. The Aggies had Smith placed on second to open the 10th, but stranded her there. The Eagles opened the 10thwith Daniels on second. They pinch ran for her with Kaitlyn Macon.
NCCU eventually loaded the bases against sophomore reliever Hailee Cutts setting up a walk-off infield single by Evans to score Macon. N.C. A&T took a 2-0 lead thanks in part to sophomore Marcey Jiles who double to right center in the second. Senior Zadia Davis then hit a two-out single through the right side to advance Jiles to third.
After Davis stole second, freshman Nikki Varela reached on an error allowing Jiles and Davis to score for the early Aggies lead. Cutts (3-6) took the loss.
In the second game, Eosso (5-7) got the win for the Eagles while Cutts (3-7) got the loss after a tough first inning where she gave up four runs with only one of those runs earned.
The Aggies were able to get some of those runs back in the visitor’s second. Waddell and sophomore Samantha Ramirez singled. An Eagles throwing error allowed senior pinch runner Taylor Martin to score and Cutts to reach base. Smith would ground into a double play but it allowed Ramirez to score to cut NCCU’s lead to 4-2.
N.C. A&T later got to within one, 5-4, in the fifth inning. With a runner on first and one out, freshman Eternal Fuller singled up the middle. There was a throw to third to try and get Smith going to third, but it was too late. The throw allowed Fuller to move to second.
Freshman Maya Figueroa responded with two-run RBI single to score Smith and Fuller.
But the Eagles scored two more runs in their fifth before the Aggies got to within two, 7-5, on an RBI single from Cutts in the sixth inning. The Aggies could not get any closer, however, as they went down in order in the seventh.