LUBBOCK -- Senior pitcher Megan Gibson picked up her 18th victory of the season, remaining perfect in the circle, as the seventh-ranked Texas A&M softball team (30-6) moved to 2-0 in Big 12 play with a 7-3 extra-inning victory over Texas Tech in the Red Raiders’ home and conference opener on Friday night at Rocky Johnson Field.
It took the Aggies nine innings and three hours and four minutes to overcome a three-run deficit and plate the winning run to drop the Red Raiders to 7-23 on the season and 0-1 in league play.
“I was not happy at all with the way our team came out in the first few innings,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “We had a big win against Baylor, we played great, and we dominated a game against a very good Baylor team. Then we came here and we were flat to start off and we weren’t very aggressive at the plate. I will tell you on the flip side though, our kids fought and they fought hard and they didn’t give up.”
Tech struck first, posting single runs in the second, third and fourth innings to take a 3-0 into the top of the sixth. The A&M bats would not stay silent for much longer as catcher Erin Glasco led off the inning reaching on a fielding error by Red Raider shortstop Leah Legler. Junior Holly Ridley drew a walk to move Glasco into scoring position. Three consecutive singles into right field by Natalie Villarreal, Alex Reynolds and Kelsey Spittler brought the Aggies within one run of tying the ball game, heading into the final frame.
“I felt like early on we just didn’t have that ‘want to,’” Evans said. “And then we put some hits together and score the two in the sixth and that made all the difference. The one thing I thought we did well was move our runners; we got our bunts down and that gave us a chance to score on a couple of sac-flys. Once we got rolling, there were some really great at bats.”
In the seventh Jamie Hinshaw lined yet another A&M single into right field and took second after a late throw by Robyn Wike who opted to go to second with the ball instead of getting Glasco out at first on the bunt. Ridley laid down a bunt moving both Hinshaw and Glasco into scoring position. With just one out Villarreal came up huge for the Aggies hitting a long fly ball into leftfield, sacrificing Hinshaw home to tie the game at three-all.
Gibson, who’d already struck out eight Red Raider batters, was lights out in the seventh striking out the side, all three looking, to send the game into extra innings.
The two teams battled through a scoreless eighth before Gibson helped her cause leading off the ninth with a single through the right side. Hinshaw drew a walk and Glasco moved the runners up on a successful sacrifice bunt. Ridley drew her second free pass of the game to load the bases. Villarreal logged the winning RBI battling through a 13-pitch at bat to draw a walk and bring Gibson home.
The bottom of A&M’s lineup would continue to produce as Reynolds gave the Aggies a little insurance sacrificing Hinshaw home on fly ball into leftfield. Spittler dropped a Texas-leaguer in just behind Legler for two more RBIs, moving her total to three on the night and giving the Aggies a four-run lead going into the bottom half of the inning.
Tech brought the tying run to the plate in designated player Tye Coats with bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. With a 3-2 count Gibson was able to close the door on Coats and record her career-best 16th strikeout of the game.
“Gibson battled all day,” Evans ended. “She wasn’t going to give in. Gibson had some big strikeouts in key situations. I’ve said this before, but she’s really being stingy about where she’s throwing the ball. She’s making them hit good pitches. Her composure on the mound was great. She kept prodding her team on when we were down two and then three. We knew we could count on her out there. I’m just really impressed with her mental toughness.”
On the night Gibson allowed just two earned runs on five hits over nine innings, picking up her 17th complete game of the year. For the season, Gibson has recorded 132 strikeouts in 125 innings pitched. The senior All-American boasts a 0.78 ERA and has a flawless mark in Big 12 play at 2-0.
Coats, who replaced Tech starter Ashly Jacobs on the mound in the sixth, suffered the loss, dropping to 3-9 on the season. Coats worked three innings allowing three runs on four hits. Jacobs reentered the game with two on and no outs in the ninth. She allowed four runs on the night off seven hits and five walks.
A&M and Texas Tech will wrap-up the two-game series on Saturday at Rocky Johnson Field. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m. and came be heard on AggieAthletics.com.
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