COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Texas A&M junior Holly Ridley posted a 2-for-3 night at the plate blasting two homeruns and five RBIs to lead the No. 5-seeded Aggie softball team (53-7) to a 6-1 victory over the No. 12-seed Stanford Cardinal (49-14) in game one of the best-of-three series at the Aggie Softball Complex.
Freshman first baseman Rhiannon Kliesing led-off the game for A&M with a solo-shot in the bottom of the first frame. With one out Megan Gibson drew a walk and Jamie Hinshaw reached on a fielding error by Cardinal first baseman Erin Howe. Ridley lifted a 1-2 pitch high over the leftfield wall and into the netting protecting the 12th Man Productions’ big screen. The three-run longball was Ridley’s seventh of the season and gave Gibson all the run support she would need to battle to her 37th victory in the circle.
Ridley came to the plate in the fifth with another opportunity to drive home a couple of Aggie runs. With two outs and Gibson sitting on first, Ridley stroked her eighth homerun of the season, second of the game just inside the leftfield foul pole. The two-run dinger gave A&M a 6-0 lead and Ridley her 30th and 31st RBIs of the season.
“I thought that our kids really came out prepared from the very first pitch of the game,” A&M head coach Jo Evans said. “The crowd was in it before we even started the game. I thought that that was also a difference maker. I thought offensively we were aggressive but I also thought we did a pretty good job of hitting strikes, not chasing any bad pitches and making her throw the ball in the zone. You could see all our kids get up there and really get their cuts. Even our outs I thought, for the most part, were good solid contact. It’s a great start for us and great momentum going into tomorrow.”
The 1,594 fans that came through the gates on Saturday night saw Gibson pitch a three-hit gem, fanning 10 Stanford hitters en route to her 14th double-digit strikeout performance of the season, fifth consecutive. The senior All-American allowed just one Cardinal batter to reach scoring position through five complete.
“The thing about Megan is you can scout her all you want but she can throw strikes on both sides of the plate,” Evans noted. “When you adjust for the inside-pitch sure enough the outside pitch is going to come. I thought she was really deceptive with her change-up tonight and it really made a difference.”
Alissa Haber drew a walk to start the top of the sixth for Stanford. Two batters later, Maddy Coon lined a 2-2 pitch into the left-centerfield gap for a double, moving Haber to third. With just one out, Stanford’s leader in RBIs, Rosey Neill drilled a ball into what looked to be a gap between first and second, but Natalie Villarreal quickly moved to her left scooping and tossing the ball for a force out at first. Haber scored on the play and would prove to be the only Cardinal runner to touch home.
“Stanford is athletic,” Evans ended. “They really get up there and get good cuts. They’re a tough team. I thought Megan even on the at-bats where maybe she didn’t feel as comfortable as she wanted; she’s just tough enough to gut it up and do what she needs to do. I thought Erin (Glasco) did a nice job of calling the game. I think she really kept their hitters off balance.”
Cardinal starting pitcher Missy Penna lasted 5.1 innings surrendering six runs on six hits. She faced 23 Aggie batters, walking three and striking out three. Shouldering the loss for Stanford, Penna fell to 37-12 on the mound. Ashley Chinn worked the final two outs of the game giving up a hit, a walk and striking out one.
The two teams will faceoff again on Sunday with first pitch of game two slated for 2:30 p.m. ESPNU will broadcast the game live and fans can listen locally in the Bryan/College Station area on Sports Radio 1150 the Zone. Live stats will be available on aggieathletics.com.
The first 100 students showing a valid Texas A&M ID will be admitted to the game free of charge.
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