GREENSBORO (April 28, 2018) – It was a tough day for the North Carolina A&T softball team Saturday at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex.
The Aggies endured a doubleheader sweep, 4-1 and 3-0, at the hands of archrival N.C. Central. The two losses eliminate N.C. A&T from Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament consideration. N.C. A&T (7-35) dropped to 4-10 in the MEAC Southern Division while NCCU (16-24) sits in fourth place in the South at 7-7 with only one conference game to play. Therefore, mathematically, the Aggies cannot capture one of the four seeds permitted to advance to the conference tournament in Ormand Beach, Fla., May 10-12.
N.C. A&T will not be in the conference tournament for the first time since 2011. They came into the weekend needing to win two out of three to qualify. The Aggies trailed early in Game 1 as NCCU took a 1-0 in their half of the first.
But senior Raven Gray started the process of helping the Aggies get the run back as she walked to open the first. Senior Talisha Jenkins sacrificed her to second with a bunt to set up junior Zadaisha Waddell’s one-out RBI double down the left-field line to tie the game at 1. Senior Nathaly Pacheco kept the inning going with a single, but the inning ended on a strikeout.
NCCU took the lead for good in the second as Aleyah Evans singled through the right side. She eventually moved to second on a groundout and went home on a failed pickoff attempt that tried to throw her out at second. The Eagles added two more runs in the fourth as Claire Eosso scored pinch runner Zakiya Smith on an RBI single. Smith replaced Courtney Mirabella on the base paths after Mirabella reached on a fielder’s choice.
Eosso was replaced on the base paths Jessica Powell who stole third and scored on the errant throw that tried to throw her out to give NCCU a 4-1 lead.
Mirabella, the NCCU starter, kept the Aggies hitless in the fourth and fifth. Sophomore Stephanie Williams did reach on an error in the second but she was thrown out trying to steal third. Waddell singled in the inning but was stranded. Mirabella (14-14) retired the Aggies in order in the seventh to pick up the win.
Waddell (2-9) got the loss. She did go 3-for-3 at the plate with an RBI.
The hits were hard to come by for the Aggies in Game 2. Mirabella one-hit the Aggies in the second game. Most of what the Aggies accomplished against Mirabella happened in the sixth. Junior Zadia Davis broke up the no-hitter with an infield single and moved to second on the play on a throwing error. Jenkins walked to put two runners on with one out but a strikeout and a pop fly ended the inning.
Mirabella (15-14) ended the game by only giving up one walk and striking out nine.
N.C. A&T starter Mohagony Headen also had a great game from the circle. Headen, who leads the Aggies in strikeouts, had 10 on Saturday. She had a shutout going until the sixth when Evans hit a two-run homer to give the Eagles a 2-0 advantage. NCCU added a run in the seventh on an Evans RBI single.
The Aggies were retired in order in the seventh to end the game.
The two teams will play the series finale noon Sunday at the Lady Aggies Softball Complex. Three seniors will be honored before the game in Jenkins, Gray