GREENSBORO - The North Carolina A&T has a softball team who plays with a lot of heart. A&T has a softball team with players who hit the ball well. The Aggies even have a team of players who can compete for a MEAC championship.
The only problem is they don't have a team with a lot of players. Only 10 players suited up for the Aggies on Saturday as they lost both games of a doubleheader at Lady Aggies Softball Complex, 4-3 and 6-2 to Bethune-Cookman.
The Wildcats (23-23, 8-0 MEAC) remained undefeated in the conference while the Aggies (12-26, 5-6 MEAC) lost their seventh straight. A&T, who only has a dozen players on the roster, had to play without two of its stars on Saturday. All-MEAC infielder Hope Fletcher is out with an illness, and leading hitter Juanita Jernigan sat out with a hamstring injury.
Sophomore catcher Sabrina Edmonds took Jernigan's place in the cleanup spot (No. 4 batter) of the Aggies lineup and did not disappoint. Edmonds went a combined 6-for-7 during Saturday's contests. On March 22, Edmonds was hitting .154. Thirty days later, she is hitting .298. She hit her team-leading seventh home run in Game 1.
Both Detavia Kenan and Tranea Jones had two-out singles up the middle leading into Edmonds' home run in the Aggies half of the third. Bethune-Cookman starter Shanel Tolbert made a mistake to Edmonds by throwing her fastball on a 3-1 count. Edmonds took advantage of the miscue by planting Tolbert's pitch over the center field fence for a 3-0 lead.
B-CU didn't take long to rally. Aurelia Gamch led off the fourth with a triple down the right field line. Sabrina Ferguson's double scored Gamch to put the Wildcats on the board. Karina Romero followed with a two-out single to center field to bring the Wildcats to within one. Cesley Tafoya tied the game on another extra base hit, this time it was a double to left center field.
The short-handed Aggies continued to put make scoring threats. They put two runners on in the fourth and one more in the fifth. In the sixth, freshman Zabresha Blakeney singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Erica Turner. Runners were placed on the corners when Dominique Smith went to first on an infield single. But the Aggies left two more runners when Detavia Kenan grounded out to shortstop.
Gamch gave the Wildcats the lead in the seventh with an RBI double to left center field to score Breanna Chavez with two out.
The Aggies, who left 10 runners on base in Game 1, had the winning run come to the plate after Edmonds singled to right field and moved to second base on a throwing error by B-CU right fielder Michelle Banuelos-Smith. Raven Smith's infield put two runners on, but Tolbert got Tiffany Macklin to foul out before striking out Alexandra McAfee to end the game.
Tolbert struck out four to earn the win. Dobison took the loss despite striking out four. Both ladies started Game 2 as well. A two-run RBI double by Banuelos-Smith in the third inning helped the Wildcats take a 4-0 lead.
Consecutive doubles by Blakeney and Turner helped the Aggies cut the lead to 4-1 in the fifth. Kenan added another run when she singled to center field to score Turner.
Kenan moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, but tough luck occurred next. Jones hit a sharp groundball headed toward center field, but it never made it there because the ball hit Kenan, who was in full sprint to third base. By rule, Kenan was called out, ending the inning and the Aggies' threat.
A throwing error helped the Wildcats extend their lead to 5-2. Calesha Shelly advanced to second on the error. Gamch then singled to center field to score Shelly for the four-run lead. The Aggies had one additional threat the rest of the way, but after Edmonds' leadoff double in the sixth, Tolbert retired the next six Aggies to improve to 16-11 on the year.
Dobison (11-16) took the loss after striking out seven and giving up three earned runs over seven innings. Raven Smith went 3-for-3 in Game 1, while Turner was 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored in Game 2. The two teams will play again noon Sunday at LASC.