COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Four home runs, including two from sophomore Rhi Kliesing, lifted the fifth-ranked Texas A&M softball team to two wins (8-0, 4-1) over Tulsa and UTSA on opening day of the 2009 season and the Aggie Classic, presented by Honey Baked Ham.
All four home runs came against the Golden Hurricane (1-1) and the Aggies (2-0) used great execution and timely hitting to down the Roadrunners (0-2) in game two. Kliesing drove in five runs on the day, with three of four hits for extra bases. Sophomore Natalie Villarreal (Frisco, Texas) went 4-for-5 with three runs scored.
“Rhi was terrifc on the mound today, she was in complete control,” said A&M head coach Jo Evans. “I really loved the way she attacked the hitters and stuck with her game plan. She really made a statement about what she can do on the mound and at the plate.”
The Pearland, Texas, native helped the Aggies jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Tulsa by launching the first of back-to-back round-trippers. Kliesing’s homer was followed by senior Holly Ridley’s solo shot to left center.
Kliesing and the A&M defense were also focused in the field with a three-pitch inning in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of the frame, the Aggie bats sparked up again with junior Macie Morrow (Sugar Land, Texas) blasting a two-run slam before Kliesing went yard for the second time with a three-run bomb.
Kliesing earned her first shutout of the year in the circle giving up just one hit, walking one and fanning two.
After four scoreless innings in game two, the Aggies pushed two runs across the plate in the fifth. Consecutive singles by Villarreal and Kliesing put two runners on with no outs before Ridley sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Junior Alex Reynolds (Tomball, Texas) then laid down a bunt, and text-book execution of a suicide squeeze saw Villarreal sliding into home for the first run of the game. The ball got past the UTSA catcher on the play allowing Kliesing to score from second and put the Aggies up 2-0.
“We had stranded a lot of runners and I felt like their corners were playing back all game,” said Evans. “Alex executed the suicide squeeze perfectly. I felt like it was early and we needed to see what our team could do and we needed to be aggressive. We came out this weekend with a goal in mind of being overly aggressive and I think it paid off for us.”
A&M plated two more runs in the top of the seventh. Kliesing scored Villarreal on a hard-hit double and later crossed the plate for her fourth run of the day on a sacrifice fly to left by Ridley.
UTSA managed one run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but the Aggie defense held strong and freshman pitcher Rebecca Arbino picked up her first win of the year. From Clovis, Calif., Arbino threw a complete game allowing one run on seven hits and striking out one.
The 2009 Aggie Classic continues tomorrow with three games. UTSA and Tulsa hit the diamond at 10:30 a.m. followed by two A&M contests at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.