COLLEGE STATION -- All-American Megan Gibson tossed seven innings of shutout softball and sophomore Alex Reynolds went 3-for-3 at the plate to pace the seventh-ranked Texas A&M softball team (29-6, 1-0 Big 12) to a 7-0 win over the 15th-ranked Baylor Lady Bears (17-7, 0-1 Big 12) Wednesday evening in front 1,552 fans at the Aggie Softball Complex.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my team right now,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “It has been a rough go a little bit of late. I thought our team came out fired up, they were aggressive at the plate.”
The Aggies gave Gibson all the run support she would need early. Macie Morrow, Jami Lobpries, and Gibson drew consecutive walks to start the bottom half of the first inning loading the bases for senior third baseman Jamie Hinshaw and chasing Baylor starter Brittany Turner from the game.
“We looked for pitches early in the count and we took some walks early in that first inning,” Evans said. “When you can chase a pitcher in the first inning you are doing your job. We continued to put pressure on them the whole game and I think their pitchers felt that pressure. I was just very pleased with our approach at the plate.”
Kirsten Shortridge moved from right-field to the circle in relief. Hinshaw and catcher Erin Glasco greeted the sophomore with back-to-back singles to plate Morrow, Lobpries and Gibson. Shortridge then coaxed the next batter into a groundout allowing the runners to move into scoring position. Natalie Villarreal followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Hinshaw. Reynolds recorded her first hit of the night, rounding out the Aggies initial scoring threat with a line-drive single up the middle to plate Glasco and give A&M the 5-0 advantage.
The Aggies added a run in both the fourth and fifth innings to cap off the victory.
Villarreal sent a first pitch triple, the first of her career, into the right-center gap to leadoff the fourth and scored on Reynolds second single of the evening.
Glasco doubled to open the bottom half of the fifth and was replaced by pinch-runner Bailey Schroeder. Jenny Isham, who entered the game in relief of Shortridge in the fourth, enticed the next two batters to pop-out but could not restrain the hot-hitting Reynolds, who blasted her third double of the season over the head of the right-fielder, to score Schroeder.
“I am so excited for Alex because she’s been frustrated with her hitting,” Evans said. “She was the first one to show up early yesterday to practice to get her cuts in. Alex is a gamer and you just know she is going to break out of it and she did tonight. She stepped up and got some timely hits for us and really gave us the chance to win the ballgame. She got some big RBIs. I’m just really, really happy for her.”
Baylor had runners in scoring position on four different occasions but could not capitalize as Gibson remained dominant in the circle, dropping her overall ERA to 0.72.
“Baylor is a very good hitting team,” Evans noted. “Their batting averages are through the roof. You never can relax or feel too comfortable against that team. Gibson kept getting tougher and tougher as the night went on, she was able to big outs when she needed them.”
With the win, Gibson remained perfect at 17-0 on the season. The senior scattered four hits, while striking out seven and surrendering just two walks.
“Gibson is lights out right now,” Evans ended. “You see her as a pitcher; she has such a great presence on the mound. She is stingy; she’s not throwing the ball over the plate to anybody. If she makes a mistake, it’s one or two in a game, if that many. She’s really hitting her corners and mixing it up. I just love her presence on the mound. She is so confident right now and you can see it. That’s who she is. She is a confident kid and not cocky at all. She knows she can get the job done.”
Turner suffered the loss for the Bears, dropping to 3-4 on the year. The junior was charged with three runs and faced just three batters before exiting the game without recording an out.
The Aggies return to action Friday against Texas Tech in Lubbock. First-pitch is set for 5 p.m. and can be heard on aggieathletics.com.
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