BY KEVIN BUCZEK
CARY, NC. – Junior pitcher Lauren Sitterson took a no-hitter into the fifth inning in game one and then tossed her first shutout in the second game as the North Carolina Central University softball team posted a 5-3 and 8-0 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) doubleheader sweep over visiting South Carolina State University Saturday afternoon at Thomas Brooks Park.
The Lady Eagles improved to 10-26 overall and 5-6 in the MEAC Southern Division. The Lady Bulldogs slipped to 2-35 and 2-9. The five conference wins are a new MEAC-era program record.
NCCU and SCSU will wrap up the three-game series on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. a win by the Lady Eagles would clinch a playoff for NCCU into the MEAC Softball Championship for the first time since joining the league in 2012.
GAME ONE: N.C. Central 5, South Carolina St. 3
Sitterson took a no-hit bid into the fifth inning while sophomore Aleyah Evans provided a pair of hits and two RBI as NCCU secured the opener by two runs.
SCSU had the potential tying runs on the corners in the seventh inning, but Sitterson induced a game-ending popup to secure her second win of the season. Sitterson (2-7) recorded four strikeouts on her way to the complete-game victory.
NCCU jumped out 3-nil and never trailed. Sophomore Miriam Duen drew a lead-off walk in the bottom of the first and scored on a deep double to right by senior Kim Mobley. The Lady Eagles tacked on two more runs in the second as juniors Danyelle Noland and Ryann Kostandin picked up hits and later scored on a SCSU error.
Freshman Alston Jenkins broke up Sitterson’s attempt at a no hitter with a clean single down the left field line with one out in the fifth. Senior Unique Whitehurst followed with a bunt single and they scored the first two SCSU runs on the Lady Bulldogs’ third straight base knock, a double off the bat of sophomore Jada Richardson.
The Lady Eagles regained a three-run lead on a two-run single by Evans, who plated junior Fallon Roberson and Allison.
An NCCU error led to SCSU’s third and final run in the seventh. Whitehurst drove in that run with a double.
The maroon and gray outhit the Lady Bulldogs, 9-5, with both Evans and Kostandin hitting safely twice apiece.