COLUMBUS, Ga.- The second-ranked Texas A&M softball team (22-3) closed out tournament play in the NFCA Leadoff Classic with a 4-0 win over the North Carolina State Wolfpack (9-11) on Sunday.
“I thought our kids played well,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “The bottom of the order has done a good job in this tournament. We stepped up and got some big RBIs down there. NC State was pretty aggressive at the plate today getting their cuts. Gibson did a nice job of keeping the ball down and in, where they couldn’t hit it.
The Aggies started the second inning off with back-to-back walks by Erin Glasco and Macie Morrow. Freshman Andrea Tovar came in to pinch run for Glasco. Designated player Alex Reynolds sacrificed Tovar and Morrow into scoring position. Junior Holly Ridley answered with a two-RBI double to the right centerfield wall, giving A&M a comfortable 2-0 lead.
“It is nice to see Holly swinging the bat well,” Evans noted. “I think she did a good job this weekend of picking her pitch to hit. Our kids, in general, are doing a pretty good job of setting the table.”
Glasco added a little insurance in the third inning lining a single through the left side to score Megan Gibson who’d reached on a single of her own into leftfield. The RBI was Glasco’s 12th of the season.
Gibson kept the Wolfpack without a base runner until the fourth when Shanna Smith drew a walk to start the inning. Smith stole second but was unable to advance any further as Gibson logged her sixth strike out of the game and then coaxed a line out and a ground out to keep the score 3-0 in A&M’s favor.
A lead off double in the top of the fifth by Allison Presnell looked as if it might spark NC State to scratch at least one run across, as Presnell moved to third with just one out. However, Gibson dug down to log her seventh and eighth strikeouts of the game to strand Presnell at third.
Aggie centerfield Jami Lobpries continued to give Gibson run support as the senior drove a 1-1 pitch deep over a leaping Ashleigh Davis at the base of the left field fence, to increase A&M’s lead 4-0. The home run was Lobpries’ first of the 2008 season, her 12th RBI.
Alyssa Ishibashi started the sixth off with a base hit for NC State and was able to advance to second on a booted ball in the outfield. Eliza Jacobellis was brought in to pinch run and took third a on a Gibson wild pitch. Jacobellis tried to swipe home a ball that scooted by Glasco, however a quick throw back to Gibson covering home erased the runner and ended the inning.
The Wolfpack would not go quietly into the afternoon as Presnell hit a two-out single into right-centerfield in the seventh. Gibson came back to retire Kristine Bechtholdt to end the inning.
With the shutout, Gibson improves to 12-0 on the season. She worked seven complete allowing just three hits and striking out a season high 10 batters.
“Gibson was really sharp in that game,” Evans said. “She came out and threw a lot of strikes. She wasn’t afraid to go right at hitters. She got a bunch of strikeouts. But more-so she was really in control. I think she and Erin did a good job of mixing up the speeds later in the game.”
Lindsay Campana shouldered the loss for NC State, dropping to 3-9 on the year. She worked five complete allowing four runs to score on six hits. She walked three Aggie hitters and struck out three. Mendy McKenzie worked a hitless inning in relief.
The Aggies will return to the friendly confines of the Aggie Softball Complex to host the 2008 Honeybaked Ham Aggie Classic. A&M will start play on Thursday against BYU at 6 p.m.
Score by Innings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
NC State 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1
Texas A&M 0 2 1 0 1 0 X 4 6 1
E - Holm; Lobpries. LOB - ST 3; Texas A&M 5. 2B - Presnell; Ridley. HR - Lobpries. SH - Reynolds. SB - Smith;
Win - Gibson (12-0). Loss - Campana (3-9). WP - Gibson.