TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Without depth and All-MEAC infielder Hope Fletcher, the North Carolina A&T softball team remained undefeated in the MEAC's Southern Division with an 8-3 win over Florida A&M at Lady Rattler Complex Friday afternoon. The two teams will conclude their three-game series Saturday in a 1 p.m., doubleheader.
"Despite our numbers, our injuries and illnesses, the team is playing with a lot of heart," said A&T head coach Mamie Jones, who only has 11 players available to her with Fletcher out of the lineup.
Fletcher did not play for the fourth consecutive game because of an illness. A&T (11-18, 4-0 MEAC) still managed to win its season-high fourth straight. The Aggies also won their first road game of the season in the process. Sophomore Dominique Smith, who is replacing Fletcher in the leadoff spot in the lineup, had a four-RBI afternoon. Her day included an RBI triple, a two-run homer and two runs scored. Over the last four games, Smith is hitting .375 with six runs scored.
A&T has also received excellent pitching from junior ace Ashira Dobison. Dobison (10-11) is undefeated in her last three starts with an ERA of 1.33. Dobison has also had control of her demand lately. She has not surrendered a walk in her last 16 innings pitched. Dobison's teammates started taking control of the game for her in the fourth inning. Smith clobbered her second home run of the season to right field to give A&T a 4-1 advantage. A four-run fifth, put the game away for the Aggies.
With the bases loaded, Zabresha Blakeney singled up the middle to score Juanita Jernigan. Florida A&M reliever Whitney Robinson, who replaced starter Jennifer Lindsey, walked the next two Aggies with the bases load to force in two more runs. Those two walks led the Rattlers to place Addie Dozier on the mound. Dozier got Smith to hit into a fielder's choice, but Blakeney still scored to give the Aggies an 8-1 lead.
Tera Gainer was able to hit a two-run home run off of Dobison in the fifth inning, but Dobison struck out Corin Gordon and got Tenisha Dixon to fly out to center to end the inning. The Rattlers threatened again in the sixth and the seventh. But their rally in the sixth was halted by a double play, and Aria Stewart was stranded on second when Gordon flew out to center field to end the game.
Sophomore catcher Sabrina Edmonds aided the Aggies by going 3-for-4 with a run scored. The Aggies beat the Rattlers for just the 18th since the teams started playing one another in fast-pitch softball in 1994. Gainer had three RBI for the Rattlers.