CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif.-A four-run first inning propelled the second-ranked Texas A&M softball team (4-1) to a 9-0 victory over Utah State (0-5) in Sunday’s final game of the Cathedral City Kickoff.
“It’s nice to see our kids come out and dominate a game,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “We talked about that in the huddle prior to the game; let’s get out here and finish this tournament making a statement about our team.”
Natalie Villarreal leadoff the game for A&M with a full-count walk. She stole second and scored on an error by USU first baseman Aubrie Stroman. Three more runs would cross the plate as Megan Gibson drew her fifth walk of the season and Amanda Scarborough, Jamie Hinshaw and Erin Glasco each followed suite with a singles to clear the bases.
“Scoring early (in the first inning) really puts your opponent on their heels,” Evans continued. “It makes the game really feel out of reach from the get-go. For our team, it gives us a whole lot of confidence.”
A five-run third inning gave A&M a 9-0 lead which they held to bring the run-rule into effect in the fifth inning. Scarborough leadoff with a single into left-centerfield. For the second time in as many at-bats Hinshaw drove the ball past the Utah State second baseman into right field. Glasco and Holly Ridley each drew walks to bring home A&M’s fifth run of the game. With no outs, designated player Rhi Kliesing drove the ball up the middle for a two-RBI single, plating runs no. six and seven for A&M.
An overthrow by centerfielder Emilly Reilly allowed Ridley to stroll home. Freshman Kelsey Spittler then lined a sacrifice fly into right field to bring home the Aggies’ ninth and final run of the game.
Gibson moved to 3-0 on the season, working three shutout innings. She gave up just one hit while striking out four. Kliesing entered in relief in the fourth and worked the final two innings hitting one batter and striking out three to keep Utah State from plating any runs.
“Again Gibson looked really good on the mound,” Evans said. “It was nice to see Rhi come in and work a couple of innings. She looked great. Her ball was moving well and she was in command.”
Lindsey Benson was charged with the loss for Utah State, dropping her record to 0-3 on the season. In two innings of work, Benson gave up eight runs, six earned, on five hits. She walked four and struck out just one A&M batter.
Scarborough and Hinshaw both ended the day going 2-for-2 at the plate. Scarborough added her fifth RBI of the season while Hinshaw scored her fourth run of 2008.
A&M will open the home portion of its 2008 schedule on Wednesday, Feb. 13 against Sam Houston State. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. at the Aggie Softball Complex.
“I want our stadium to be jam-packed,” Evans ended. “I was people to come out and have a great time. I want them to have a chance to see our team. Our team has so much talent and great energy and our kids always feed off our fans. There is a kind of give-and-take there. We get our fans going and then our fans get us going. Homefield advantage, there’s nothing like the 12th Man.”
Score by Innings 1 2 3 4 5 R H E
Utah State 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2
Texas A&M 4 0 5 0 X 9 6 1
E - Reilly, Emil; Stroman, Aub; Gibson. LOB - USU 3; Texas A&M 3. HBP - Hubbard, Sim. SF - Spittler. SB -Villarreal; Morrow; Gibson.
Win - Gibson (3-0). Loss - Benson, Lind (0-3). Save - None.
HBP - by Kliesing (Hubbard, Sim).