North Carolina A&T Softball in the Wingate by Wyndham Invitational
Opponents, Dates and Times: Towson (Feb.9, 11 a.m.); Charleston Southern (Feb. 9, 1 p.m.); North Dakota (Feb. 10, 9 a.m.); Towson (Feb. 10, 11 a.m.); Charleston Southern (Feb. 11, 1 p.m.).
GREENSBORO – North Carolina A&T starts its 25th season of fast-pitch softball on Friday morning when they play in the Wingate by Wyndham Invitational hosted by Charleston Southern. The Aggies return 10 letterwinners from a team that came within one game of making the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Champions Softball Tournament title game. N.C. A&T was 19-30-1 last season with an 8-8 mark in the MEAC.
The Aggies open the invitational against Towson. The Aggies and the Tigers will meet for the fourth time on the field with the Aggies leading the series, 2-1. The last time the two teams played was in 2014 when they got together for a doubleheader at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex. The two teams split with the Aggies losing Game 1, 6-0 but winning the second, 10-7. After playing the Tigers, the Aggies will turn their attention to host Charleston Southern. N.C. A&T lost to the Bucs twice during the 2016 season.
Saturday morning will open with the Aggies playing North Dakota for the first time in program history before facing Towson and Charleston Southern again.
TOWSON OVERVIEW: The Tigers are an experienced team led by six seniors. They have helped the Tigers win 95 games during their careers. Senior Kendyl led the Tigers last season by batting .341 with seven home runs, 31 RBI, seven doubles and four triples. Senior Megan Dejter led the Tigers in the circle last season. She posted a 3.45 ERA while striking out 74 over 180.1 innings pitched. The Tigers were 23-27 last season with a 6-13 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN OVERVIEW: Charleston Southern will get an opportunity to open the season at home for the fifth time in six seasons. The Bucs will get to host their own tournament which actually opens with them playing North Dakota in a doubleheader on Thursday afternoon. The Bucs were 26-36 overall and 10-11 in the Big South conference in 2017. Junior Jade Gandara returns after batting .354 last season. Her numbers also included an impressive 16 home runs and 55 RBI. She also had a .709 slugging percentage. Gandara was second in the voting for preseason player of the year in the Big South. Arizona Pilgrim is their top returning pitcher. She posted a 9-10 record with a 3.18 ERA. She also struck out 78 batters and led the team in innings pitched (125.2).
NORTH DAKOTA OVERVIEW: The Fighting Hawks were 23-32 last season with a 9-11 record in the Big Sky conference. They return 16 letterwinners including eight position players who started last season. Kalyin VanDomelen leads the way for the returners after a 2017 season where she was named Big Sky Pitcher of the Year. In 2017, she posted a 12-17 record with a 1.95 ERA over 175.2 innings pitched. She also struck out an impressive 171 batters. VanDomelen was also the Fighting Hawks top hitter by leading the team with a .333 batting average. She also had eight home runs, 16 doubles, 28 runs scored and 26 RBI.
News & Notes:
- N.C. A&T is looking for its second opening-day win under four-year head coach Kenya Peters. The Aggies opened the 2016 season with a 6-1 win over Coppin State at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex. It was the Aggies best start under Peters as N.C. A&T opened the season 4-0.
- Junior Zadaisha Waddell has proven to be a tough player to strike out. Waddell was 35th in the nation and first in the MEAC in toughest to strike out. Waddell struck out only four times in 105 at bats last season. She has only been K’ed 15 times in 239 career at bats. Teammate Nathaly Pacheco was seventh in the conference in toughest to strike out, striking out every 15.3 at bats.
- Senior Raven Gray had an off year in 2017 when it comes to triples. As a sophomore, Gray was 26th in the nation in triples (5) and 29th in triples per game (0.21). The next year she was 40th in the nation in triples per game (0.40). Last season, Gray recorded two triples and has 11 career triples.