OKLAHOMA CITY- Texas A&M senior Megan Gibson was named the 2008 Big 12 Softball Championship Most Outstanding Player, tossing a four-hit shutout as the fifth-ranked Aggie softball team (49-7) pounded out 10 hits to sweep both the regular season and tournament titles with the 5-0 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers (25-27) in front of 736 fans in the title game on Sunday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
It was the first Big 12 Tournament title for the Aggies in program history, their third conference trophy in the past four years.
“It’s just great to finally get that monkey off our back,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “We haven’t played well at this tournament and I thought we came out this weekend and looked really good. We needed to have these three games to get us sharp and back ready to play postseason. It was really important for us to come out and play well. This is going to give us great momentum going into postseason.”
The Aggie bats came alive in the bottom half of the second inning. Third baseman Jamie Hinshaw hit a hard grounder to the right side that kicked off the out-stretched glove of Nebraska second baseman Julie Brechtel for a base hit. Five-hole hitter Holly Ridley then lined a single down the right field line into the corner allowing Hinshaw to race around to third. Aggie catcher Erin Glasco followed up with a sharp grounder up the middle to plate Hinshaw and put runners on first and second for senior centerfielder Jami Lobpries. Lobpries reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second moving runners into scoring position for Macie Morrow. Morrow lifted a pitch into shallow centerfield, plating Ridley. With two runners on and two outs, Husker starting pitcher Molly Hill coaxed Kelsey Spittler into a ground out to end the inning.
A&M kept rolling in the bottom of the fourth continuing to be aggressive at the plate. Both Lobpries and Morrow singled on the first pitch of their at-bats, with Lobpries driving a ball into centerfield and Morrow beating out a perfectly placed bunt. Lobpries was able to advance to third on Morrow’s hit when Husker third baseman Heidi Foland threw the ball away over the head of the first baseman and into right field. Spittler followed with a single through the right side, plating Lobpries. Freshman lead-off hitter Rhi Kliesing reached on a fielder’s choice and was replaced by pinch runner Andrea Tovar. Morrow was able to score on a wild pitch by Hill and Tovar came home on a groundout to second to give A&M a 5-0 lead and more than enough run-support for Gibson to earn her 33rd victory of the year.
With the win Gibson improved to 33-1, registering her 16th shutout and 32nd complete game of the season. The two-time All-American scattered three hits, striking out six and surrendering just two walks.
The free pass in the fourth inning to Brechtel was the first Gibson has allowed in her last 17 2/3 innings of work.
Hill (15-17) shouldered the loss for Nebraska, surrendering five runs on 10 hits. Alex Hupp entered in relief of Hill in the top of the sixth and worked just one inning posting zeros and fanning one A&M hitter.
A&M was the first team since Nebraska in 2004 to garner both the regular season and tournament crowns.
Joining Gibson on the 2008 All-Tournament Team are fellow senior Jamie Hinshaw and juniors Erin Glasco and Holly Ridley.
Gibson earned three victories over the weekend, posting two shutouts and allowing just one run against Texas in the semifinal game on Saturday. In 21 innings pitched; Gibson struckout 27 hitters while holding opponents to a .135 average.
Glasco and Ridley were responsible for three of the Aggies’ eight RBIs on the weekend, while Hinshaw and Ridley scored four of the Aggies’ nine runs.
The A&M softball team will return to College Station to await the announcement of the field of 64 for the 2008 NCAA Softball Tournament. The bracket will be revealed on ESPNU at 9 p.m. Sunday night.
“When we pulled up on the bus on that first day to come here and practice, it felt like we were playing where they play the College World Series,” Evans said. “We were back in that realm, where before it has always been this is where we play the Big 12 Tournament. Now it’s nice to be at a place in our program where we walk in here and say, ‘This is where you play the College World Series.’ That’s what we aspire to do this year, to be back at the World Series.”
2008 Big 12 All-Tournament Team
Brette Reagan, Baylor, INF, Jr.
Rachel Zabriskie, Iowa State, P, Fr.
Samantha Ricketts, Oklahoma, INF, Jr.
Crystal Carwile, Nebraska, INF, Jr.
Molly Hill, Nebraska, RHP, Jr.
Haley Long, Nebraska, INF, Jr.
Meghan Mullin, Nebraska, OF, Jr.
Erin Glasco, Texas A&M, C, Jr.
Megan Gibson, Texas A&M, P, Sr.--Most Outstanding Player
Jamie Hinshaw, Texas A&M, 3B, Sr.
Holly Ridley, Texas A&M, SS, Jr.
Jennifer Corkin, Texas Tech, C, Sr.
Devin Zargoza, Texas Tech, OF, Sr.