ELON – North Carolina A&T softball played a doubleheader at Elon Wednesday evening ahead of what will be a big weekend three-game series at N.C. Central . On the downside, the Phoenix defeated the Aggies 1-0 and 4-2 at Hunt Softball Park. On the upside, A&T’s pitching continued its steady improvement as the Aggies prepare for the Eagles.
Solid pitching will be a must if the Aggies (7-32) want a spot in the 2013 MEAC Softball Tournament Championships, scheduled for May 9-11 in Ormond Beach, Fla.
The top four teams from each MEAC division – Northern and Southern – earn a berth in the tournament. The Aggies are in a three-way fight with the Savannah State Tigers and the S.C. State Bulldogs for the fourth and final spot out of the south. A&T and Savannah State head into the weekend tied at 5-7, while S.C. State is 4-7.
The Tigers and the Bulldogs play a three-game series this weekend in Savannah, Ga. The Aggies and the Eagles will play a 2 p.m., doubleheader on Saturday and a noon finale on Sunday. There is a possibility a makeup game between S.C. State and Florida A&M could come into play. A three-way tie would be beneficial for A&T in tie-breaker scenario because the Aggies were the only team among the three to beat Southern Division No. 1 Bethune Cookman.
In the weekend tune-up against Elon on Wednesday, Game 1 A&T starter Ashira Dobison had another excellent outing in which she was the losing pitcher. In her last outing, Dobison lost 1-0 to Appalachian State. The only run Elon scored against her was a Grace Eng home run down the left field line on a 3-2 pitch. One batter later, Ali Ford singled off of Dobison. That was the only other hit in the game for the Phoenix.
Dobison retired 11 straight before giving up a walk Tomeka Watson in the sixth inning. Dobison struck out five over six innings in the two-hitter. On March 13, Dobison’s ERA was a season-high 10.65. In each of her last four outings, Dobison has surrendered only one earned run to place her ERA at a season-low 6.95. Unfortunately for Dobison on Wednesday, Elon starter Chelsea White was tad bit better.
The Aggies only scoring threat in the first game came in their second. Catcher Sabrina Edmonds opened the inning with a single and was replaced on the basepaths in a fielder’s choice by Tranea Jones. Jones moved to second on a passed ball and went to third on a bunt single by Zabresha Blakeney. Blakeney moved into scoring position by stealing second, but with two out, Alexiss Dominguez flew out to left field to end the inning.
Only one other Aggie – Jax Woodard – reached in the game. She was eliminated in a double play in the fourth inning. White had eight strikeouts in a complete-game shutout.
In Game 2, Elon rallied in its final two at-bats to win. With the Aggies leading 2-0 going into the Elon fifth, two costly errors helped the Phoenix tie the game. After Lauren Oldham reached on an error, Ford scored her on a double to left-center field, and then moved to third on an error. One batter later, Caitlin O’Shea singled to score Ford. In the sixth, Carleigh Nester gave the Phoenix a 3-2 lead with a leadoff homer. An RBI single by Kayla Caruso closed out the scoring for the Phoenix.
Game 2 starter Janika May (1-12) was the losing pitcher for the Aggies despite giving up only one earned run. She also helped her cause by hitting a two-run homer in the second.