COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Texas A&M seniors Jamie Hinshaw and Jami Lobpries each registered two RBIs in the first inning to pace the fifth-ranked Aggie softball team to a 4-2 victory over the seventh-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in front 1,723 fans on sunny Saturday afternoon at the Aggie Softball Complex.
The loss was Oklahoma’s first in conference play this season, putting the Aggies at the top of the Big 12 standings.
“I’m excited for our kids,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “We showed up ready to play today. We saw that in that first inning. We were aggressive; we took our walks when we could. I thought we hit the ball hard several times today. I liked our approach and I liked our attitude. I liked that we didn’t come out tentative one bit. We came out here to win a ball game.”
Megan Gibson remained flawless in the circle, picking up her 24th consecutive victory this season, leading the Aggies to the best start in league play with a 10-0 conference record. A&M is 38-6 overall. Gibson ended the afternoon with 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work. The senior allowed just two runs on four hits.
The Sooners fell to 35-10, 8-1 in league play with the loss. Junior D.J. Mathis shouldered the loss for OU facing 14 batters in four innings of work. Mathis was charged with all four of the Aggies’ runs surrendering four hits, all in the first inning. Jadyn Smith worked the remaining two innings in the circle for OU, not allowing another Aggie run to score.
A&M shortstop Macie Morrow started the bottom of the first frame with a single just inside the rightfield line. Lefty second baseman Natalie Villarreal sacrificed Morrow into scoring position. Gibson sky-rocketed a ball above second base, but OU’s Traci Dickenson lost the ball in the sun, giving Gibson the opportunity to log a double and move Morrow to third. Hinshaw then lined a 1-1 pitch into rightfield to score both Morrow and Gibson. For the third time in four games Holly Ridley was hit by a pitch; Mathis’ 33rd hit-batter of the season. Designated player Alex Reynolds drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases for Lobpries. Down in the count 1-2, Lobpries roped a double down the leftfield line to bring home what would prove to be the game’s winning RBI in Hinshaw.
“That first inning was huge for us,” Evans said. “I think Macie was the difference-maker today. She has struggled a little bit in that leadoff spot, but came out today and really showed she wants to be up there. I think it spoke volumes about her that she got up there and ripped the ball today. She really set the tone for us.”
Gibson was working on what looked to be her 11th shutout of the season until the sixth inning. Sooner shortstop Savannah Long drew a walk to start the frame and moved up on a single by rightfielder Susan Ogden. Samantha Ricketts drew a walk to load the bases for Oklahoma. Gibson was able to coax Dickenson’s replacement at second base, Dani Dobbs, into striking out. However with one out catcher Lindsey Vandever stroked an 0-2 pitch into leftfield to plate two runs for OU. Much to the Aggies’ welcome, Wendy Trott and Jessica Legendre flew out and struckout to end the inning.
Gibson and the Aggie defense were able to keep Oklahoma from scoring earlier in the game as the Sooners put two runners on in the second, but quickly had the lead runner cut down at third base with a strong throw from Hinshaw to Morrow for the force out. Iver McDonald who was brought in to pinch run for Trott, got caught a little too far off the bag and picked off by Aggie catcher Erin Glasco. Haley Anderson recorded the last out of the inning, swinging at a ball out of the zone for the third out.
The victory served as the first time A&M had won the first game of the series since 2004, when the Aggies walked away with a 1-0 win in College Station.
The 1,723 fans at the game marked the fifth-largest crowd to come through the gates at the Aggie Softball Complex.
“I thought the crowd was great and I love that we gave them something to cheer about in the first inning,” Evans ended. “That helps, you know, you get them in the game. I just thought they were tremendous. I was really pleased about the turnout.”
The two teams will square off in the series finale on Sunday at 12 p.m. Fans can listen to the game and view live stats on AggieAthletics.com.