BATON ROUGE, La. – The fifth-ranked Texas A&M softball team dropped a heartbreaker to No. 21 LSU, 6-5, in the eighth inning at the Easton Tiger Classic after falling to Ohio State earlier in the day, 9-3.
“To say I was displeased about the first game would be an understatement,” said head coach Jo Evans. “So I challenged them in the second game to really come out and fight and they did that and it really showed. We came back twice in the game and gave ourselves a chance to win the game. You just hate to let a game like that get away.”
After LSU (5-3) got out to a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, the Aggies (5-3) fought back in the fourth. Sophomore Rhiannon Kliesing led off with an infield single before freshman Taryn Broussard drew a walk with one out and freshman Kelsea Orsak followed with a bunt single to load the bases. Sophomore Natalie Villarreal then evened the score and plated Kliesing and pinch runner Bailey Schroeder on a two-out single through the left side.
Shortstop Juliana Santos hit a solo home run in the fifth to put the Tigers back on top, 3-2.
In the top of the seventh, Villarreal led off with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Alex Reynolds. A wild pitch gave Villarreal third base and with two outs, senior Holly Ridley’s RBI single into shallow center field popped loose from Santos’ glove as she dove to try to make the catch.
The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning, but Morrow fielded a grounder and threw out Jazz Jackson at home for the second out before Kliesing fanned Courtney Hollier to push the game into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, the tiebreaker rule went into effect, placing a runner on second base to begin each half inning. With Kliesing on second, junior Macie Morrow sacrificed the Pearland, Texas, native to third and reached base on an OSU error. Broussard then ripped a single through the right side and pinch runner Andrea Tovar scored from third. Orsak sacrificed both Morrow and Broussard into scoring position and a wild pitch by freshman Brittany Mack as she was intentionally walking Villarreal, saw Morrow sliding into home to give the Aggies a two-run lead, 5-3.
In the bottom of the eighth, Ashley Applegate bunted for a single and Hollier, who was placed on second, advanced to third. Jessica Mouse sacrificed both runners into scoring position before Hollier scored on an infield putout. With two outs, Jackson singled through the left side to score Applegate from third, then an Aggie error allowed Santos to reach base before Rachel Mitchell singled up the middle and scored a speedy Jackson from second for the game-winning run.
“Rhi pitched really well and gave us a chance to win,” Evans said. “I’m just frustrated that we weren’t more aggressive on our play making. When we get into a tiebreaker and get two runs, we have to take full advantage of that. LSU did a good job to put the ball in play in that last inning to get their runs.”
In A&M’s earlier game, the Aggies had their lead-off batter in scoring position the first two innings and retired the Buckeyes (7-1) in order, but in the top of the third Ohio State plated four runs on three hits and one A&M error.
In the bottom of the inning, Orsak reached base on an error and sophomore Kelsey Spittler singled to left to move Orask to second. Kliesing put the ball up the middle and a fielding error on Ohio State’s second baseman allowed the ball to roll into center and Orsak easily crossed the plate to make the score 4-1.
After two scoreless innings, the Buckeyes erupted for five runs in the sixth to increase their lead to 9-1.
Ridley took one run back in the bottom of the inning with her third home run of the year, a solo shot to left field.
The Aggies retired the Buckeyes in order in the top of the seventh and with two outs in the bottom of the inning A&M never gave up. Reynolds was hit by the pitch before senior Erin Glasco laced a double to left center to score Reynolds from first. Freshman pinch runner Eden Morris advanced to third on a wild pitch, but the OSU defense held strong for the final out of the game.
Kliesing earned the loss after throwing three innings and giving up three hits and four unearned runs. Lindsay Bodeker (3-0) threw six and two-thirds innings for the win.
“Tomorrow, I just really want to see us play the game hard like we did in this (LSU) game,” said Evans. “I give my team credit. They came out and bounced back after an embarrassing loss to Ohio State. I hate to lose, but I saw some good things today.”
A&M will play at 9 a.m. or 11 a.m. on Sunday and possibly again at 1:30 p.m. for the championship game of the tournament. Stay logged on to AggieAthletics.com for the most up-to-date schedule information
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