COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Senior All-American Megan Gibson and freshman Rhiannon Kliesing combined for 14 scoreless innings as the Aggies opened the 2008 Texas A&M Invitational shutting out Temple, 7-0, and Sam Houston State, 2-0, Friday at the Aggie Softball Complex.
“All-in-all I thought we had a good mindset at the plate and were really aggressive,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “I wasn’t pleased in the first game against Temple, because I didn’t think we bunted very well. In terms of bunting and sacrificing, moving runners around I think we did a whole lot better against Sam Houston. It was nice to see our kids get up there swinging the bats. We had some (balls) that got caught in the wind, the kids took good cuts and the wind is what kept it in the ballpark.”
Senior third baseman Jamie Hinshaw drilled a leadoff single up in the middle and stole second base to start the top half of the second inning. Senior Jami Lobpries doubled to left field to push Hinshaw across for the Aggies first run of game one against the Temple Owls.
Freshman Kelsey Spittler laid down a bunt single to start the third frame. Lefty second baseman Natalie Villarreal laid down the sacrifice bunt and was called safe at first after the throw tipped off the glove of the second baseman allowing Spittler to advance to second. Gibson singled to left field to load the bases for the hot-hitting Hinshaw. Hinshaw laced a double into the left-center gap to plate Spittler and Villarreal and chase Temple starting pitcher Brianna Dairy from the game.
“I thought Hinshaw looked really good against Temple,” said Evans. “She is swinging the bat well. She looked comfortable and looked aggressive at the plate.”
Junior transfer Erin Glasco welcomed Temple reliever Katie Burdeaux with a single to right field, scoring Gibson and allowing Hinshaw to move to third. Sophomore Alex Reynolds reached safely after Temple shortstop Chelsea Reicher booted the ball enabling Hinshaw to come home.
Hinshaw reached on a fielder’s choice to start the seventh inning and stole second. Glasco walked on four straight pitches to put runners on first and second with one out. Lobpries drove a stand-up double to the left-center gap allowing both Hinshaw and Glasco to score.
Dairy (2-1) shouldered the loss for the Owls giving up five runs on five hits in 2 1/3 innings of work.
Gibson improved to 7-0 on the season, striking out eight and allowing just three hits in seven complete innings of work.
“Gibson was in total control,” Evans noted. “I thought she was cruising and looked really focused and kept their hitters off balance. Gibson has looked really sharp for us thus far. She is on top of her game.”
Kliesing helped her cause at the plate against Sam Houston State in game two with a leadoff single in the bottom of the third inning. The left-handed hitting Spittler laid down a bunt single to put runners on first and second with no outs. Villarreal perfectly executed a sacrifice bunt allowing her fellow freshmen to move into scoring position. Sophomore shortstop Macie Morrow singled to right field, plating Kliesing and Spittler.
Sophomore Morgan Mikulin (2-1) suffered the loss for the Bearkats surrendering two runs on three hits and five walks.
Kliesing earned the win in the circle for the Aggies in just her second start of the year. The Pearland, Texas-native struck out five, giving up just two hits in seven complete innings and not allowing a runner to advance past first base.
“Rhi looked really good out there,” Evans said. “She was in total control. She gave up a couple hits early, but it was no big deal, they didn’t hit the ball hard off her. She did a good job of staying ahead in the count. She threw a lot of strikes early and when she did get behind, she came back to challenge the hitters and make them swing. I thought she did a really nice job.”
A&M will return for day two of the Texas A&M Invitational Saturday for games against North Texas at 3 p.m. and Temple at 5:15 p.m. at the Aggie Softball Complex.