EAST GREENSBORO (February 14, 2019) – North Carolina A&T softball is starting anew while trying to send out a group of special seniors with a championship.
“I think the great thing about our group is the dynamic of the team,” said N.C. A&T coach Kenya Peters who is entering her sixth season with the program. “We have 10 newcomers and five seniors, so it is going to be interesting to see how they work together. We have the new and the old. I think that will be a good healthy mesh where the young can learn from the old and the old can learn from the young to get us where we need to go.”
The Aggies open the 2019 season 2 p.m., Friday, February 15 at Appalachian State. The Aggies were 7-37 overall and 4-11 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
Peters’ senior class of Zadaisha Waddell (5-foot-4, UTL, Troy, N.C.), Mohagony Headen (5-10, P/INF, Greensboro, N.C.), Taylor Martin (5-1, UTL, High Point, N.C.), Zadia Davis (5-8, OF, Florence, S.C.) and Morgan Chisholm (5-5, C, Harrisburg, Pa.) are a part of the first big recruiting class Peters signed as the Aggies head coach.
Waddell has endured several injuries throughout her career but has always been ready to play each season for the Aggies. She is an All-MEAC utility player who has benefited the Aggies greatly as a pitcher and a designed player. Waddell is a career .334 hitter with eight home runs, 74 RBI and a career .462 slugging percentage. She has struck out only 23 times in 344 at-bats making her one of the toughest players in the MEAC to strike out.
In the circle, Waddell has 17 wins with a career 4.03 ERA. She has 94 appearances, 55 starts and has logged 405 innings for the Aggies over the previous three seasons. She has 215 career strikeouts with 111 of them coming during her sophomore season. She also has five career saves.
Headen has played a dual role for the Aggies as well. Headen has been the Aggies first baseman and No. 2 pitcher throughout her career. Headen is career .222 hitter with 10 home runs, 42 RBI and a career .379 slugging percentage. In the circle, she has 20 wins with a career 4.40 ERA. She has made 91 appearances with 47 starts and has pitched 353.1 innings. Headen has K’ed 281 batters, shutout two opponents and earned three saves.
Martin and Chisholm have been situational players during their career while Davis has been a three-year starter in the Aggies outfield. She has played 121 games with 109 starts and is a career .281 hitter. She batted better than .300 in each of her first two seasons in AggieLand. The speedy Davis also has 17 career stolen bases.
“To see them grow from high school recruits into young women has been a process and a good journey,” said Peters. “Only people who are close to the program know how many times a player like (Zadaisha) has bounced back from injuries. I want to see my seniors go out with a bang. I want to see them win a MEAC championship. I want to see them go out making a statement.”
For that to happen, the Aggies will need their youth to come through. While Waddell and Headen have more than a combined 750 innings pitching experience, the rest of the Aggies pitching staff, sophomores Hailee Cutts (5-9, Oxford, N.C.) and Bayleigh Kirby (5-6, Mebane, N.C.) and freshman Alisa Maldonado (5-1, Wilmington, N.C.) have combined to pitch 76.2 innings.
“Z and Mohagony will continue to lead us in the circle,” said Peters. “We’re looking for Hailee and Bailey to come in this year and get more innings. We want them to be able to find their rhythm. Alisa is a versatile player. You will see her in the circle, in the outfield and in the infield.”
Versatile players should help the Aggies improve this season. Many of their newcomers can play multiple positions like Maldonado. In addition to having depth in the circle and versatility, the Aggies also have depth at catcher with four players competing for playing time. In fact, the Aggies have one of their largest rosters under Peters with 21 players.
“This year we have all the pieces to make the car go,” said Peters. “We play an intense schedule, so it’s good to alternate and have players ready for different opponents and different situations.”
After playing Appalachian State, the Aggies will play in three non-conference tournaments including the North Carolina A&T Aggie Invitational at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex, March 8-10, before opening conference play at S.C. State on March 23.
“We want to play together and have team chemistry,” said Peters. “I think that will take us a long way. If we play together, that will take his further than all the talent we have.”
INFIELDERS: Freshmen Vivica Boyd and Desttany Parker will compete for time at third base this season while junior college transfer Alyssa Smith will look to hold down the shortstop position with competition from freshman Maya Figueroa. Sophomore Jendayi Wright will return as the Aggies second baseman while Headen and Cutts will share time at first base again.
The Aggies four have four catchers including Chisholm and sophomore Samantha Ramirez who return from last season to go along with freshmen Dominque “Nikki” Varela and Jocelyn Bennett.
OUTFIELDERS: Davis leads a group of talented outfielders. The Aggies return Sophomore Marcey Jiles and junior Alyssa Green from last season. Jiles hit .268 with a home run and four RBI, while Green was a .250 batter with four RBI. The newcomers include freshmen Eternal Fuller, Tivonia Cole and Maldonado.