COLUMBUS, Ga. - The second-ranked Texas A&M softball team (21-3) handed Florida State (11-9) a 7-0 loss before dropping the afternoon game 4-1 to the Minutewomen of UMass (5-8) at the South Commons Complex in day two action of the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
“I thought our hitters looked good against Florida State,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “I thought we were selective at the plate and hit good pitches. (Megan) Gibson did a nice job on the mound; she’s not going to be perfect every single day. They hit the ball harder today off her, but she does what she needs to do to win ballgames. I thought our defense did a good job of taking care of business.”
Gibson improved to a flawless 11-0 in the circle on Saturday, shutting out the Seminoles in the early game. Including the game against Florida State, Gibson has worked 24-consecutive scoreless innings on the mound. The senior gave up five hits as she struck out six FSU batters.
The Aggies gave Gibson the necessary run support early as A&M plated two runs in the bottom of the first. Freshman Natalie Villarreal doubled a ball of the first base bag to start the inning. Jami Lobpries drew a walk and moved into scoring position off an infield ground out by Gibson. Senior third baseman Jamie Hinshaw laced a single into right field to score Villarreal and Lobpries.
Alex Reynolds hit a solo shot, her second of the season, in the second inning and Gibson scored in the third to give the Aggies a little insurance headlining into the late frames.
“It is nice to see us score early in the game,” Evans continued. “I felt like all day in the Florida State game we really put pressure on their defense and put some hits together. It was nice to see Alex get the big homerun and see our kids hit throughout the line up.”
A&M came up big in the fifth, tacking on four more runs for a 7-0 lead. Lobpries started the inning reaching on an error by FSU third baseman Michelle Snyder. Gibson drew a walk, at which point the Seminoles made a pitching change.
A passed ball by reliever Sara Hamilton allowed Lobpries and Gibson to move into scoring position. Hinshaw singled to drive in her third RBI of the game. Aggie catcher Erin Glasco reached on Florida State’s second botched ball of the inning and Gibson came home on an overthrow to first. Hinshaw scored A&M’s third run of the inning touching home after a wild pitch by Hamilton.
Hinshaw ended the first game a perfect 3-for-3, scoring once and driving in three runs.
Tiffany McDonald recorded the loss for FSU giving up six runs in four innings of work. She gave the Aggie batters five free passes. The loss dropped McDonald to 1-1 on the season.
Despite out-hitting UMass 9-5 on the afternoon, the Aggies had their 15-game winning streak snapped against the Minutewomen. UMass jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With two outs Samantha Salto lined a single into leftfield. Jessica Serio reached on an Aggie fielding error. Both Salto and Serio advanced home on a single by Sarah Reeves.
UMass added two runs to their two-run lead in the third. Whitney Mollica reached on an error to start the inning and pinch runner Jill Andrews moved to second on a sac bunt by Salto. A single by Serio and a Reeve’s fielder’s choice allowed Andrews to score. Serio was lifted for pinch runner Davina Hernandez who scored on a single by Stacey Cullington.
A&M managed to get one run back in the top of the fifth as Gibson lead the inning off with a double into left field. With one out Glasco looped a 3-1 pitch to the left side to score Gibson.
In the fifth the Aggies had runners on second and third with just one out but were unable to scratch any runs across as the UMass starting pitcher Brandice Balschmiter coaxed Lopries to ground out and Gibson to fly out.
The win moved Balschmiter to an even 4-4 on the season. The loss dropped Aggie pitcher Rhi Kliesing to 6-1. The freshmen worked six complete, allowing four runs on five hits. She struck out four and surrendered just one walk.
“I thought Rhi did a nice job,” Evans said. “She did her job in the first inning. We end up having two outs and she throws a routine ground ball and goes between our legs and they end up scoring two runs; that is disappointing because our defense has been so good. UMass kept the ball in play and kept working hard. In the third inning again their leadoff hitter gets on because of our error. I felt like a lot of it was in our control. I thought UMass as good in terms of being aggressive at the plate put the ball in play and make us make mistakes.”
The Aggies will conclude tournament play on Sunday with a 9 a.m. game against North Carolina State. Fans can listen live on AggieAthletics.com.
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