GREENSBORO - When there are only 12 players on a softball team, there is a good chance a reserved will be called upon to contribute.
On Thursday at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex, sophomore Detavia Kenan was that reserve. She sat until the fifth inning awaiting her opportunity. With the bases loaded, head coach Mamie Jones placed her in the game to pinch-hit.
Kenan, who was paying close attention to how Maryland Eastern Shore starter Carmen Gurrola was pitching left-handers, responded with a two-run RBI single that led the North Carolina A&T softball team to a 7-3 win in the first game of a doubleheader against the Hawks. In the second game, Kenan got the start in left field and continued to make a difference.
She went 4-for-4 with four RBI, including a three-run home run as A&T completed the sweep with an 11-5 win over UMES.
"It's been a long time since I've gone 4-for-4 in a game," said Kenan as she grinned at the sound of her accomplishment. "I hope to use it as a confidence booster. It should give me an edge going into the next game. I know my teammates are counting on me to be consistent."
Jones was certainly counting on Kenan in the first game. The Aggies (7-16) led just 4-3 over the winless Hawks (0-16). Before Kenan was able to step to the plate, sophomore first baseman Juanita Jernigan walked, freshman right fielder Raven Smith singled and sophomore catcher Sabrina Edmonds was hit by a pitch.
Instead of going with right-hander Erica Turner, Jones decided to use the left-handed Kenan. Kenan came into the at-bat hitting just .211 with 14 strikeouts. Gurrola then gained the advantage over Kenan by going ahead one ball, two strikes in the count.
"I was watching her closely the whole game," said Kenan about studying the Hawks pitcher. "I saw her throwing a lot of inside pitches to lefthanders. I just waited until she gave me an inside pitch I could handle and tried to hit it."
After falling behind 1-2 in the count, Kenan fouled off three straight pitches before popping up Gurrola's pitch over her head into center field to score Jernigan and Smith for a 6-3 Aggies lead. Tiffany Macklin's double to center field scored Edmonds to give the Aggies a four-run lead.
A&T starter Ashira Dobison, who gave up three earned runs in the first inning, retired the Hawks in order in the sixth and seventh to pick up the win. She struck out six, walked one and surrendered seven hits over seven innings.
Dobison also started Game 2. She pitched 5.2 innings and although she gave up five runs, only one was earned. Dobison improved to 7-10 after striking out three.
She received the majority of her help in the fourth inning with two outs. UMES was also helpful as it committed four errors in the inning.
With the Aggies leading 3-1 going into the fourth, Zabresha Blakeney reached on a throwing error and moved to second on a foul out by Macklin. Fletcher also reached on an error, and after Dominique Smith flied out, Blakeney scored on a fielding error by Gurrola (0-16), who returned as the Hawks' starting pitcher in Game 2.
Jernigan added another run when she singled to right to score Fletcher to give the Aggies a 5-1 lead. Raven Smith, who reached on the Gurrola error, scored as UMES right fielder Samantha Pitt dropped Edmonds' fly ball. Kenan finished off the Hawks with her first home run of the season as A&T took a 9-1 lead.
"We played really solid today," said Kenan. "If we string our hits together and play solid defense, we can be really successful this year."
Jernigan assisted Kenan in Game 2 by going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI. Edmonds was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. The Aggies are back in action Tuesday when they face USC Upstate in a 2 p.m., doubleheader at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex.