SAN DIEGO- The fifth-ranked Texas A&M softball team (28-6) wrapped up play in the San Diego Classic II on Sunday with a 2-1 loss to No. 25 Long Beach State (20-8) at the USD Softball Complex.
“I think this weekend was a good wake up call for us,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “It said, ‘Hey listen we can just show up and beat people.’ We have to play great and want to win all the time.”
The 49ers plated all the run support they would need for the 2-1 victory in the top of the first inning. Jonae Perez drew a one-out, eight-pitch walk. Leftfielder Lacey Tyler lined a single into leftfield to move Perez into scoring position. Aggie pitcher Rhi Kliesing was able to coax Jennifer Griffin to strikeout for the second out of the inning. However, a wild pitch moved Perez and Tyler to second and third. Brooke LeSage then drove the ball into left-centerfield picking up the two RBIs.
“We put ourselves in the first inning and gave up a couple of runs,” Evans said. “Rhi did such a great job to get the second out with Griffin, she’s a great hitter. Then she sort of let the next hitter off the hook. That’s frustrating; she’s got to be able to shut that kid down. I thought she did a great job out there. Last night she got roughed up some, but today, I thought she was very good. She was certainly good enough to win a ballgame.”
In the top of the fifth Long Beach State threaten again with two outs and the bases loaded. Kliesing dug down and five pitches into a 2-2 count struck out Danielle Linke to end the inning unscathed.
It would take until the bottom of the fifth for the Aggies to scratch a run across. Designated player Alex Reynolds drew a leadoff walk. Sophomore Bailey Schroeder was brought in to pinch run. Aggie leftfielder Mandy Gegen laid down a sac bunt to move Schroeder over to second base. Macie Morrow sent a ball into leftfield that Tyler was able to catch easily for out No.2. Senior centerfielder Jami Lobpries blasted a two-out single into leftfield to score Schroeder from second and advanced to third as Tyler’s throw home bounced the back of Schroeder sliding in.
“I like the way we executed in the fifth inning to get that run,” Evans noted. “We need to be able to play the small-ball and execute like that. I think we need to get better at hitting the pitchers’ mistakes. We see balls on the plate and we need to be aggressive on those. We needed timely hits where you can get a defense on their heels, when you can get a pitcher start to feel like, ‘Uh oh, here we go; A&M is on a roll, they are getting hot.’ We just couldn’t get that together today. We couldn’t string a couple, two, three hits together.”
A&M had the tying run on base in pinch runner Andrea Tovar with just one out in the sixth but two flyouts into leftfield by Holly Ridley and Natalie Villarreal ended the Aggies’ run at their 29th victory of the season.
“As a team we can’t press,” Evans ended. “So what they get two runs in the first. We still have all those outs and at-bats to work with. We need to be able to relax and continue to play the game and stick with our plan.”
Kliesing worked all seven innings for the Aggies, allowing six hits while striking out eight 49er batters. With the loss the freshmen moves to 8-4 on the season.
Brooke Turner improved to 13-3 on the season with the victory. She allowed one urn on four hits. Turner struck out seven Aggies batters.
The Aggies return home to open Big 12 play against the Baylor Lady Bears on Wednesday evening at the Aggie Softball Complex. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.