CHARLESTON, S.C. (February 9, 2018) – North Carolina A&T softball opened the 2018 season with a heartbreaking loss and a solid pitching performance from one of their freshman. In the Aggies opening game of the Wingate by Wyndham Invitational hosted by Charleston Southern, they lost to the Towson Tigers 6-4 at CSU Softball Field. In their second game, the Aggies lost to the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, 6-0.
N.C. A&T got two-hit performances from freshman outfielder Nijah McCray and senior outfielder Talisha Jenkins against Towson. Junior catcher Morgan Chisholm added two RBI. Sophomore outfielder Alyssa Green and junior first baseman Mohagony Headen were the only two Aggies to get hits against CSU. But freshman pitcher Hailee Cutts gave up only one run in four innings of relief.
After rallying from a late three-run deficit to the Tigers to take a 4-3 lead, the Aggies went into the visitor’s half of the seventh trailing 6-4. Jenkins opened the frame with an infield single. After Chisholm fouled out, junior outfielder Zadia Davis reached on a fielder’s choice that put runners at first and second with one out. McCray loaded the bases with another infield single before sophomore shortstop Stephanie Williams ran into some tough luck.
Williams hit a hard-line drive to Tigers third baseman Kaylen Minnatee who then tagged out Jenkins for the final out of the game. It was a tough loss for an Aggies team that found themselves down 3-0 going into the top of the 6th.
Cutts started the Aggies rally with a single. Junior Taylor Martin pinch ran for Cutts and advanced to second on a passed ball. Jenkins moved Martin to third on a single and Jenkins eventually stole second to put both runners in scoring position. Chisholm took advantage with a two-run RBI single to left field to cut the Tigers lead to 3-2. Chisholm’s base hit led to the removal of Towson starter Julia Smith-Harrington from the circle as Melissa Abrahamian came on in relief. But Abrahamian walked the first batter she faced in Davis to put runners on first and second for pinch-hitter Zadaisha Waddell.
Waddell hit into a fielder’s choice, eliminating Chisholm from the base paths while keeping runners at first and second for Williams who singled to left field to tie the game at 3 by scoring Davis. Headen was then hit by an Abrahamian pitch to load the bases with Headen, Williams and pinch-runner McCray. Abrahamian continued to struggle as she forced in a run by walking freshman second baseman Jendayi Wright. McCray scored to give the Aggies the lead at 4-3.
Abrahamian finally got out of the inning by getting senior catcher Nathaly Pacheco to hit a groundball to shortstop which led Williams to be forced out at home. Cutts ended the inning by striking out. The Tigers did rally for three runs in their half of the sixth. Cassidy Meyer’s RBI double tied the game at 4 before an RBI sacrifice fly from Minnatee gave Towson a 5-4 advantage. After Kendall Arcia was hit with a pitch, Madison Wilson gave the Tigers a two-run advantage with an RBI triple.
Headen (0-1) took the loss in the circle. She struck out seven over six innings pitched. Abrahamian (1-0) picked up the win.
In N.C. A&T’s second game of the day, freshman right-hander Bailey Kirby (0-1) recorded the loss against CSU after she went two innings and struck out. In Cutts’ four innings of relief, she only gave up three hits, one run and two walks. Alyssa Heinrich (1-0) got the win for the Bucs as she pitched five shutout innings and struck out six. The Bucs did most of their damage in the first two innings as they scored five over the first two frames.
N.C. A&T will continue play in the Wingate by Wyndham Invitational Saturday morning when they face North Dakota at 9 a.m. They will then get a return game against Towson at 11 a.m., Saturday.