GREENSBORO – The North Carolina A&T softball team will open the MEAC season by hosting the South Carolina State Bulldogs for a weekend series beginning on Sunday, March 30 at the Lady Aggie Softball Complex.
Due to rain showers, the Aggies (8-14) will take on the Bulldogs (7-13) Sunday in a doubleheader beginning at noon. The Aggies will close out the series on Monday, April 31 at 1 p.m.
SCSU is 0-5 on the road this season but will come into the game on a two-game winning streak after sweeping UMES 9-1, 8-0 on March 20 in Orangeburg. The Bulldogs have enjoyed a nine-day break before opening their conference schedule. Meanwhile the Aggies are coming off a 7-1 setback to UNCG on March 27.
A&T’s solid preseason schedule filled with competitive Division I opponents may prepare the Aggies to excel in the MEAC this year.
“I’ve really seen the girls improving,” head coach Kenya Peters. “They come to practice ready to work and wanting to get better. But going into conference we will have to realize that every game is an important game. Just because you win a game one day, doesn’t particularly mean you’ll win the next day. We have to play a complete series. We have to play a full 21 innings in these conference games. ”
Senior Sabrina Edmonds and junior Raven Smith led the Aggies in conference play last season and were named first-team all-conference for their efforts. Edmonds has continued to produce a big bat for the Aggies as their cleanup hitter. Edmonds is batting .314 and leads A&T in home runs (five) and RBI (13).
Freshman Dasia Moore is on the path heading into league play. The rookie is hitting a team-high .353 with 24 hits followed by sophomore Alejandra Barcenas who’s batting .318 with 21 hits.
“Dasia has really stepped up,” said Peters. “She has a lot of power but our offense is full of people who can hit. We just have to start stringing it all together.”
SCSU’s offense has struggled and is hitting .195 as a team opposed to its opponents who have hit .322. Ciana Burt has turned in a .360 average with 19 hits. Jasmine Harris (.260) leads the Bulldogs in runs (nine), homers (three), and RBI (13). The Bulldogs’ top pitchers are Jareece Sayles (5.25 ERA) and Vianny Gomez (5.33).
“Going into conference it’s going to be important that all of our pitchers step up,” said Peters about Janika May, Shelby Snyder, and Maiven McKnight. “We can’t rely on just one person’s arm throughout the season. Everyone has to do their job and the mistakes we made earlier we can’t allow to happen.”
Snyder, May, and McKnight have put together a team ERA of 4.51. May has recorded four wins and leads A&T in strikeouts (31).