ORMOND BEACH, Fla. (May 11, 2017) – North Carolina A&T used defense, solid pitching and 10 innings to win its opening game of the 2017 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship Softball Tournament, 3-0 over Delaware State Thursday afternoon at Ormond Beach Sports Complex. The Aggies advanced to play Florida A&M Thursday night where FAMU defeated the Aggies 3-0.
N.C. A&T (17-29-1), the No. 3 seed out of the southern division, will play archrival North Carolina Central 10 a.m., Friday in an elimination game. The Aggies took two out of three from the Eagles during the regular season.
The Aggies win over the Delaware State Hornets took almost three hours. The Aggies and the Hornets went scoreless for nine straight innings. An error to open the 10th allowed Zadia Davis to reach first base. N.C. A&T head coach Kenya Peters put in Taylor Martin as a pinch runner to replace Davis. Zadaisha Waddell followed with a single, which led to an RBI single by senior Kimberly Brunson as the Aggies finally put a dent in the scoreboard as Martin scored for the 1-0 lead.
Junior catcher Nathaly Pacheco moved pinch runner Madisyn Rhome to third and Brunson to second with a sacrifice bunt. Alexandria Simmons gave the Aggies a 2-0 lead with an RBI single to right. Mohagony Headen closed out the scoring for the Aggies with an RBI single as the Aggies went into the home half of the 10th with a 3-0 advantage for Headen who was in the circle in relief of Waddell.
Headen put down the first two batters with a strikeout and a fly out before pinch hitter Vanessa Washington singled. Jordan Casey put the tying run at the plate with another single as Micaela Cummings came to the plate. But Headen got Cummings to pop out to finally end the game after two hours and 45 minutes.
“We knew coming into the conference tournament we would have to elevate our game,” said Peters. “The ladies played with heart, and they played with determination. We were putting our bats on the ball, so we knew eventually we would break through if we didn't give up.”
N.C. A&T had some moments throughout the game where they were pressed but they never relented. In the seventh, the Hornets put runners on first and second with one out. A bad throw allowed Casey to reach third. But when Casey tried to go home to win the game for DSU, she was thrown out by Simmons at third base to leave the game scoreless. Waddell then struck out Desiree Moreno to end the inning.
Waddell opened the eighth inning by walking the first two Hornets she faced. Waddell was replaced by Headen after going seven innings, striking out seven and giving up five hits. Headen started by hitting Khaliyah Flournory to load the bases with no outs. But again, the Aggies stopped the Hornets from going home as Mika Lumsden forced out at the plate for the first out of the inning. Headen then closed out the Hornets with a strikeout and a foul out to go into the ninth. Headen came through again in the ninth after giving up a leadoff double. She sat down the next three Hornets she faced, striking out Lumsden to end the inning before the Aggies rally in the 10th.
Headen (8-15) got the win by striking out three over three innings.
Waddell (9-14) took the loss in the Florida A&M contest. FAMU starter Veronica Burse (4-15) held the Aggies to three hits to get the win. Simmons led the Aggies with two hits.