COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Senior Jamie Hinshaw was 3-for-3 for with a homerun and two runs scored as the fifth-ranked Texas A&M softball team (46-7, 17-1) earned a full point in State Farm Lone Star Showdown standings with a 2-1 victory and the series sweep of the Texas Longhorns (25-20-2, 9-9) Wednesday night at the Aggie Softball Complex.
With the win A&M retained sole possession of its second Big 12 regular title since 2005. The 17-1 mark in Big 12 play is the best any A&M softball team has posted since its inception into the conference in 1996.
“I’m so excited that we could win the Big 12 outright,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “We knew we were going to have the trophy in our clubhouse no matter what, but to know that nobody else gets it makes me feel really good. That’s just the competitive nature of our ballclub. Our kids didn’t want to share this with anybody. It has been a different hero every game that gets up there and gives us a chance to win. It’s a thrill to win a Big 12 championship because there are so many good teams in the Big 12.”
A capacity crowd of 2,055 saw the Aggies take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Hinshaw lifted her fifth longball of the season, a 3-2 pitch, over the wall in straightaway centerfield. The blast marked Hinshaw’s 29th RBI of the season.
Texas catcher Kacie Gaskin evened the score one-all in the top of the next frame as she drove the ball just over the glove of a leaping Kelsey Spittler in leftfield.
It would take A&M until the bottom of the sixth to take the lead back. Hinshaw singled to start the inning and moved to second, but not easily, as she collided with Longhorn second baseman Kelly Melone who was called for obstruction. Reaching first on the fielder’s choice was junior Holly Ridley. A&M catcher Erin Glasco laid down a sac bunt to move both runners into scoring position. With one out, shortstop Macie Morrow came in to pinch hit for Alex Reynolds and logged a sacrifice fly to leftfield that scored the go-ahead run in Hinshaw from third.
“The thing I love about Hinshaw is that is she is so aggressive. I let our kids make that decision. She gets to use her instincts and go out there and be aggressive and put pressure on their defense. She has in her mind unless that ball goes to the pitcher or the third baseman, she’s going.”
The Longhorns had runners double-up twice off what appeared to be hit-and-run situations. In the fourth, Desiree Williams was picked-off second base as teammate Loryn Johnson went down swinging. In the sixth, the duo combined for another double play as Johnson lined out to Hinshaw at third base. Hinshaw quickly threw the ball to Rhi Kliesing at first to complete the second out, as Williams left without tagging.
The last time the Aggies swept the two-game series against the Longhorns was in 2004. A&M posted a 6-0 victory in Austin that year, while run-ruling Texas 11-1 in College Station.
“I love that we had such a great crowd tonight and I love that we got to hoist up the trophy in front our fans,” Evans said of the second-largest crowd to see a game at the Aggie Softball Complex. “They stuck around after the game and they celebrated with us. Everything fell into place tonight. It couldn’t have been a better scenario than to come back here and win at our place against Texas.”
Gibson posted win No. 30 on the season, a three-hit victory in which the senior struckout seven Longhorn hitters.
Megan Denny was charged with her eighth loss of the season, surrendering two runs on four hits. The Big 12 season-leader in strikeouts, Denny fanned seven Aggie batters.
A&M will take a week off from game-action and return to the playing field May 9-11 in Oklahoma City at the 2008 Big 12 Softball Championship.