NORMAN, Oklahoma -- The Texas A&M softball team (36-20) clawed its way to a 7-6 win over Hofstra (33-14), Friday in the first game of the NCAA Norman Regional at the OU Softball Complex. With the win, the Aggies will face the winner of the Oklahoma-Bryant game, Saturday at 1 p.m. CT on ESPN3.
The game’s lead changed hands five times over seven innings and eventually put Texas A&M in the Region’s winners’ bracket. Seniors Emily Albus and Cassie Tysarczyk contributed three hits and one RBI each. Tysarczyk was a triple away from hitting for the cycle, and scored three runs on the day. Each of the Aggie’s six seniors in the starting lineup aided the effort with at least one RBI.
The Aggie defense looked stiff in the top of the first as Hofstra hit three-straight singles through the gaps to score the 1-0 run, but the Aggies’ 11th pickoff of the season turned the momentum to Texas A&M’s advantage. The throw from senior catcher Nicole Morgan to freshman second baseman April Ryan cut the leadoff runner for the second out of the inning.
Texas A&M tied the ballgame after just three pitches in the bottom of the first when senior Amber Garza’s double to left-centerfield sent senior Emily Albus home for the Aggies’ first run of the day. Albus reached on a bunt hit. Senior Cassie Tysarczyk also hit a double to left field to put two runners in scoring position in time for a laser up the middle from Jenna Stark that gave Texas A&M a 3-1 lead over the Pride.
Another senior came through in the bottom of the second when a solo home run from Taran Tyler stretched the Aggies’ lead to 4-1. The one-out shot was a sure thing as it left her bat and cleared the wall in left field.
The Pride answered big in the top of the third, taking advantage of two Aggie errors to score four runs and take their second lead of the day at 5-4. Back-to-back base hits and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with no outs before an errant throw on a fielder’s choice allowed two runs to score. After a double sent the tying run home, another error – on an attempted double play – gave Hofstra its fourth run of the inning.
Texas A&M left the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning as the Pride held onto their one-run lead. After a three-up-three-down top-of-the-fourth by Hofstra, a solo home run from Tysarczyk tied the ballgame again as it flew past the grandstand in right field and into the middle of a tennis match. The first-pitch blast was the senior’s 13th of the season.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the top of the fifth as Hofstra also hit a solo home run to take the 6-5 lead. The line drive was near impossible as it squeezed just fair and just over the fence in the corner of right field.
The Aggies responded with another run to tie the game for the fourth time of the day in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman designated player Reagan Boenker was hit by a pitch and replaced on the base paths by senior pinch runner Allison Garrett with one out. A base hit to centerfield from junior Brittany Clopton sent Garrett to third in time for Albus’ third hit of the day – an RBI double to left field.
The lead changed hands for the fifth time in the bottom of the sixth when a double to right-centerfield from Morgan sent Tysarczyk across the plate for the 7-6 Aggie advantage. Tysarczyk reached on a base hit up the middle – her third hit of the night and fourth-straight time to reach base.
For the second time of the game, Texas A&M recorded three straight outs in the top of the seventh to hold the 7-6 lead for the win.
Redshirt junior Rachel Fox (14-10) tossed 3 2/3 innings for the win, giving up just one earned run on two hits while fanning one batter. Hofstra’s Taylor Pirone (16-7) allowed two earned runs on four hits for the loss.
Up next, the Aggies will face the winner of the Oklahoma-Bryant game, Saturday at 1 p.m. CT on ESPN3 at the OU Softball Complex.