ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – A lack of timely hitting put North Carolina A&T in the loser’s bracket of the 2013 MEAC Softball Tournament Championship on Thursday morning. The Aggies managed just four hits in a 6-3 loss to Hampton, the No. 1 seed from the MEAC Northern Division.
The Aggies lost despite taking an early lead in the game. Hampton’s Taylor McCoy was a major reason why the Aggies lost their early advantage. McCoy went 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Nina Ferguson was also perfect at 2-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI. A&T will play again at 4:30 p.m., today against the loser of the South’s No. 2 seed Florida A&M and North’s No. 3 seed Delaware State.
“It’s a combination of not hitting the ball and our pitchers missing their spots,” said A&T head coach Mamie Jones. “You can’t miss your spots against a team like Hampton. They’re going to make you pay for it every time.”
The Pirates (31-23) took control of the game in the third inning. A Bobbi Langlois single through the left scored Bianca Vallejo. With runners on first and third and no outs, Langlois’ hit was enough for Jones to replace A&T starter Ashira Dobison with reliever Shelby Snyder. But Ferguson greeted Snyder with an RBI single between first and second to score McCoy from third to tie the game at 3.
Another Hampton single loaded the bases with one out, which set up the biggest blow of the game. After Langlois was forced out at home to put the Aggies on the brink of escaping the inning with the game tied, Diamond Ponds stepped to the plate. The Pirates’ No. 9 hitter blasted a line drive over the head of A&T left fielder Raven Smith to clear the bases and give the Pirates a 6-3 advantage.
“You can’t give any college player the pitch we gave her,” said Jones. “She is a slap hitter, so we were playing in. But we just gave her a pitch over the plate and she hit it pretty well.”
The Aggies were not able to mount much of an offense against Jailynn Jackson, the 2013 MEAC Pitcher of the Year. Jackson pitched a complete-game four hitter and struck out nine Aggies.
A&T did have some success in the first inning against Jackson. Leadoff hitter Detavia Kenan walked and Zabresha Blakeney followed with a bunt single. Both runners advanced a base thanks to a passed ball. With two out, Tranea Jones hit a pop fly to the right side of the infield. Hampton shortstop Margaret Wilkins ran over and dropped the popup, allowing Kenan and Blakeney to score for a 2-0 Aggies lead. A&T scored its third run on a Raven Smith RBI triple.
Smith went 2-for-3 with an RBI.