GREENSBORO - The North Carolina A&T softball team made sure freshman pitcher Alexandria McAfee's first collegiate win was an easy one.
A&T's first eight batters reached base to lead the Aggies to a 12-0 conference win over S.C. State in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader played at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex. The Aggies dominant performance followed a 3-1 win in Game 1.
The Aggies (9-18, 2-0 MEAC) two MEAC wins were two big steps toward helping them return to the MEAC Tournament, an event they missed out on last season. The third game of the series is noon, Sunday at the LASC. The Aggies have won 16 of their last 18 matchups against the Bulldogs.
McAfee (1-7) only had to pitch five innings thanks to the 8-run mercy rule. In those five innings, she recorded two strikeouts, one walk and only gave up two hits. She only had to throw 74 pitches to secure her first career shutout.
The offensive help came early and often. The Aggies scored seven runs in the first inning. Their first five batters recorded hits. Seven of the first nine would eventually record hits. The only two players who failed to get hits the first time through the lineup were Sabrina Edmonds and Erica Turner. But Edmonds was hit by a pitch and Turner's groundout resulted in an RBI.
Freshman Raven Smith and sophomore Tiffany Macklin had the two most damaging hits in the inning. Smith, the fifth player in the lineup, hit a line drive over the head of S.C. State right fielder Kiyana Merritt to score Tranea Jones and Juanita Jernigan for a 4-0 lead. Smith's hit prompted the Bulldogs to make a change on the mound as Mikala Johnson moved from third base to replace starter Raven Johnson.
It didn't matter. After Edmonds was hit by Mikala Johnson's pitch, Zabresha Blakeney reached on a bunt single to load the bases. It led to Macklin's two-run RBI double down the left field line to give A&T a 6-0 lead. It was an impressive eight-pitch at-bat for the Rocky Mount, N.C., native.
Turner's groundout closed out the scoring. The high-scoring inning didn't come to an end until a hard-hit line drive by Dominique Smith went into the glove of Bulldogs left fielder Tiffany Harris. Dominique Smith's line drive was hit so hard, Macklin left early from third and was doubled up.
A&T scored four more runs in the second inning to make life even more comfortable for McAfee (5-foot-7, Inverness, Fla.). Raven Smith led A&T with three RBI. Macklin, Edmonds and Jones had two RBI apiece. Jones, Detavia Kenan and Dominique Smith had two hits apiece.
Raven Smith went 2-for-3 with one RBI in the first game. Raven Smith's RBI single in the first inning gave the Aggies a 1-0 lead as Jones, who doubled to left field off S.C. State starter Vianney Gomez, scored from third. Juanita Jernigan had an RBI single in the third, and Dominique Smith grounded out in the fourth to score Blakeney, who reached on a bunt single, stole second and reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Macklin.
The Aggies 3-0 lead was made stronger by a stellar pitching performance from junior college transfer Ashira Dobison. Dobison (8-11) was one-out away from a shutout victory. An Aggies throwing error allowed S.C. State's LaTavia Riley to reach second after she singled. She moved to third on a groundout and scored on a groundout by Marquita Wilson.
The run didn't put too much of a damper Dobison's outing. She matched a season-high with seven strikeouts and pitched a complete-game two-hitter.