Aggies Rally Falls Short As Season Ends
GREENSBORO (May 12, 2017) – The North Carolina A&T softball team gave tremendous effort on Friday to advance to the championship game of the 2017 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Softball Championship Tournament, but came up short in a heartbreaking 6-5 loss to Florida A&M where they had two runners when the game ended at Ormond Beach Complex.
To even get to the opportunity to face Florida A&M for a chance to reach their first MEAC championship game in seven years, they Aggies first beat rival North Carolina Central Friday morning before beating Delaware State later in the day. Their contest against the Rattlers was their third elimination game of the day.
And things did not start too well. The Rattlers opened the game with a four-run first. Things got worse in the second when the Rattlers added a run thanks to a bases loaded situation. Denise Anderson's ground ball scored the run for FAMU, giving the Rattlers a 5-0 lead.
FAMU held that lead until the visitor's fifth when the Aggies began to make inroads. Junior Nathaly Pacheco doubled to right to open the inning. Two outs later Stephanie Williams singled up the middle to score Pacheco for the Aggies first run. Gray kept the momentum going with a double to left center to score Williams as the Aggies cut the lead to 5-2. The Aggies hot streak forced the Rattlers to turn to Veronica Burse in the circle.
N.C. A&T kept going, however. Junior Zadia Davis earned an infield single and junior Zadaisha Waddell walked to load the bases. Senior Kimberly Brunson, playing in her last game as a N.C. A&T Aggie, came through again with a two-run RBI single up the middle to cut FAMU's lead to 5-4. The Rattlers added a run in their half of the fifth thanks to an RBI single from Toni Anderson.
Throughout the tournament, however, the Aggies have been resilient with two extra-inning wins. They showed it again in the seventh inning versus FAMU. Junior Raven Gray started the seventh with an infield single. Gray went to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a wild pitch. Brunson picked up another RBI with an infield hit. Gray's run brought the Aggies to within one. Sophomore Alexandria Simmons put more pressure on Florida A&M when she reached on an error. But the Aggies season came to an end when Pacheco flew out to right.
The Aggies finished the season 19-30-1. Gray was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Brunson's final collegiate game included two hits and three RBI. Sophomore Mohagony Headen (8-16) took the loss in the circle. It was her first loss of the tournament. Tahlia Snider (7-3) got the win. The Rattlers (21-30-1) will advance to play Bethune-Cookman for the championship 1 p.m., Saturday at Ormond Beach Complex. The Rattlers will need to win twice to claim the championship.
Meanwhile, the Aggies strong showing in the tournament is boosted by the fact they lose only one senior in Brunson. Brunson had a superb final tournament, going 7-for-18 (.389) with five RBI. Simmons was also 7-for-18 at the plate.
Waddell and Headen combined for a 1.70 ERA during the tournament. Both ladies are rising juniors next season. Waddell was a third-team all-conference selection as a pitcher and utility player. Pacheco earned third-team honors as a catcher. Davis, Waddell and Alyssa Green all batted better than .300 this season.