AUSTIN, Texas – A late two-run rally wasn’t enough as the 16th-ranked Texas A&M softball team (33-16, 13-8 Big 12) dropped a 3-4 game at No. 7 Texas (39-8, 13-6 Big 12) in the series finale Sunday at McCombs Field in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown.
With the win, the Longhorns take the series, 2-1, and earn a point for Texas in the 2011-12 State Farm Lone Star Showdown.
After trailing by three, the Aggies scored a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to narrow the gap to a 3-4 Texas lead. A&M couldn’t draw even in the seventh, though, and ended the rivalry with Texas with a one-run loss.
“I liked our fight,” Head Coach Jo Evans said. “I feel a lot different right now than I did yesterday. It doesn’t feel good to lose ever. We expect to come here and win, and that’s frustrating, but I liked the way our kids fought in that sixth inning. It gave us a shot going into the seventh. We gave up the long ball all day and that really killed us. [Texas’ Taylor] Hoagland did a really nice job. She had a great series against us.”
Sophomore Amber Garza gave the Aggies a 1-0 jump on the Horns in the top of the second with a solo home run down the right-field line. A&M loaded the bases with no outs behind Garza on a single up the middle by junior Mel Dumezich, a walk by sophomore Nicole Morgan and a bunt single by junior Brittany Walker but a pair of fielder’s choices at home and a line out ended the half-inning.
Sophomore Emily Albus turned her second double play in the bottom of the second with two Longhorn runners advancing to scoring position. A catch in left field and throw to third ended the inning with the Aggies still a one-run lead. Albus’ first double play came in the first when she threw to first for the second out of the inning. The Aggies had three double plays on the day, ending the fifth inning with two quick outs turned by Walker.
“I thought Emily was terrific today,” Evans said. “I love that when teams try to run on her. She’s got a great arm and she’s incredibly accurate. I thought she made a great play on both of those. She was really a spark plug for us at the plate. I love her energy. She’s fired up. She’s got that fire in her belly. We need kids that play like that and not that play on their heels.”
The Aggies left the bases loaded a second time in the top of the third. Sophomore Cassie Tysarczyk reached on an error and was joined on the bags by Garza and Morgan, who each drew a walk.
“We really killed ourselves stranding bases loaded in those two innings in a row,” Evans said. “We had the right people up. You’ve got to take that and run with it. I think it would obviously be a different ballgame if we go out there as many times as we loaded those bases and get our runners on early. We would have had them on their heels early. Instead, [Texas pitcher Rachel] Fox did a good job to get herself out of those jams.”
Texas took the lead in the bottom of the inning when right fielder Taylor Hoagland sent a home run down the left field line to put the Longhorns up 2-1 over the Aggies. The junior homered again in the bottom of the fifth, stretching the Texas lead to 3-1 with the solo shot over center field. Centerfielder Brejae Washington gave the Longhorns a second consecutive bomb in the fifth, sending the ball over left for the 4-1 lead.
A&M didn’t let the surge get it down, though, and rallied in the top of the sixth. Morgan drew her third straight walk of the game and was replaced on the bags by freshman Brittany Clopton. A single lined through the left side by Walker sent the pinch runner to second before a sacrifice bunt by senior Kelsea Orsak and a sacrifice fly by Villarreal scored Clopton for the 2-4 run.
A two-out bunt single by Albus and a throwing error by Texas sent Walker home for an unearned run as the Aggies came within one run of the Horns, 3-4.
The A&M defense quickly sent the Longhorns back to their dugout in the bottom of the inning but the top of the seventh proved fruitless for the Aggies who dropped just their second Big 12 series this season, 1-2.
A&M hurler Lauren Ainsley (3-1) took the loss after giving up two earned runs on five hits and three walks in four innings pitched. Texas’ Rachel Fox (12-0) earned the win after allowing two earned runs on seven hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings.
“I thought Ainsley went out there and did a really good job,” Evans said. “Mel gave up a couple of home runs and that was the difference in the game.”
The Aggies return home next weekend to host Kansas in a three-game Big 12 series at the Aggie Softball Complex. Game one is set for 7 p.m. Friday, and games two and three will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com or follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.