COLUMBUS, GA -- Senior All-American Megan Gibson and freshman Rhiannon Kliesing combined for 13 innings of shutout ball, as the second-ranked Texas A&M softball team (20-2) beat No. 19 DePaul, 8-0 and Georgia Tech, 2-0 on Friday night at the 2008 NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.
“It was a great day,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “I am feeling very good about our team. We came out, played and beat DePaul who was in the World Series last year and Georgia Tech who went into the postseason and always hits the ball really great. Both of our pitchers looked good and were in total control of their games.”
After surrendering a leadoff single to start the game, Gibson retired 18 consecutive Blue Demon (8-5) batters to earn her 10th win in 10 starts. Gibson tied her season best with eight strike outs in six complete innings of work.
“Gibson was fantastic against DePaul,” Evans said. “You keep thinking she can’t get any better, but she really threw well in that game. You could see Megan out there feeling really good about herself.”
Andrea Tovar was responsible for scoring the Aggies’ first and winning run as the freshman entered in the second inning to pinch run for A&M catcher Erin Glasco, who reached on a single into left centerfield. Tovar moved to second after a wild pitch by DePaul starting pitcher Lindsey Dean. A single by Macie Morrow allowed Tovar to take third and come home on a sacrifice fly by designated player Alex Reynolds.
A seven-run sixth inning by A&M brought the 8-0 run-rule into affect. With one out, the Aggies recorded four straight hits before Reynolds was able to reach on an error. Two more singles, a walk and a one-out, bases loaded double by Gibson gave A&M its sixth win over a top-25 opponent.
Dean fell to 1-1 on the season surrendering seven earned runs in 5 1/3 innings of work. She struck out five A&M hitters while allowing just one walk.
“I was excited because DePaul’s pitcher threw really well,” Evans continued. She threw some great change-ups all day. She really kind of had our number for a while. I was really excited because we were able to change our game plan in the middle of the fourth or fifth inning and it really worked for us. It paid off. Our kids started to get more comfortable at the plate. To score eight runs off that pitcher was a big deal because she was really throwing well. I was excited about the way our team stayed in there and competed.”
In the nightcap against Georgia Tech (5-10), it took the Aggies until the top of the fifth to plate a run. A&M’s Kliesing was hit by a pitch; the third time in the game an Aggie batter was plunked. Tovar was brought in to pinch run for Kliesing at first. Right fielder Holly Ridley stroked a 2-2 pitch into leftfield to advance Tovar to second. Freshman Kelsey Spittler followed suit with a single of her own to load the bases. Senior centerfielder Jami Lobpries laced a single back up the middle to plate Tovar and Ridley giving A&M a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the frame.
“Jami has done a great job in RBI situations for us,” said Evans. “She is feeling really comfortable and from at-bat to at-bat is making the necessary adjustments. I know she relishes being in RBI situations. She is very competitive; she broke the game open for us. That made a big difference. It gave Rhi a little bit of leeway.”
Over the next three innings the Yellow Jackets managed just one hit, a double by Savannah Brown. Brown was the only Georgia Tech batter to reach scoring position.
Kliesing set a new season and career best with the 10 strike outs against the Yellow Jackets. She allowed just three hits and no free passes on the night. The win was Kliesing’s sixth in as many starts for the Aggies.
Whitney Humphreys shouldered the loss for Georgia Tech, falling to 1-5 on the season. In seven innings in the circle, Humphreys gave up four hits, two runs and a walk. She struck out four Aggie hitters.
“The game against Georgia Tech was tight,” Evans noted. “I just felt like our hitters were going to come around and they did. I am really excited about the great job Rhi did tonight on the mound. She struggled a little against Houston; they scored seven runs off her. But she came out tonight and it didn’t even faze her. She was in total control, gave up no walks. She just had a commanding performance.”
The Aggies will continue tournament play on Saturday with a 12:30 p.m. game against Florida State and a 3 p.m. game against UMass. Fans can listen live on AggieAthletics.com.
Score by Innings 1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E
DePaul 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Texas A&M 0 1 0 0 0 7 8 11 0
Note: 1 out, 2 runners LOB when the game ended.
E - VOJIK(2). LOB - DPU 1; Texas A&M 6. 2B - Gibson(7); Glasco(4). HBP - Kliesing. SF - Reynolds(1). SB -
Win - Gibson (10-0). Loss - DEAN (1-1). Save - None.
WP - DEAN 2(3); Gibson(2). HBP - by DEAN (Kliesing).
Score by Innings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Texas A&M 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 4 0
Georgia Tech 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
LOB - Texas A&M 5; GT 1. 2B - Hinshaw; Brown. HBP - Glasco 2; Kliesing. SB - Spittler. CS - Shimandle.
Win - Kliesing (6-0). Loss - Humphreys (1-5). Save - None.
HBP - by Humphreys (Glasco); by Humphreys (Glasco); by Humphreys (Kliesing).