HOUSTON -- The 19th-ranked Texas A&M softball team tallied 33 hits, 25 runs and 23 RBIs in a 14-2 win against Northern Illinois and an 11-1 run-rule of Prairie View A&M on Friday afternoon at the Marriot Houston Invitational.
The Aggies improved to 7-6 after hitting .508 on the day with six doubles, a triple and five home runs. Senior Erin Glasco led the team going 5-for-6 with a double, a home run, seven RBIs and three runs. Sophomore Natalie Villarreal hit .714 with three RBIs and three runs, while junior Alex Reynolds added four hits, two RBIs and four runs.
“We needed this day,” said head coach Jo Evans. “It was great to see us come out and be really aggressive at the plate, score in the first inning in both games and come out and get the pitching that we got. Our pitchers did a nice job. We saw all of them today and they each served a good purpose. All in all it was just a much better day for us.”
The Aggies came out on fire against Northern Illinois. In the top of the first inning, Villarreal and junior Macie Morrow started off with back-to-back singles to right field and senior Holly Ridley sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Glasco then laced a double to left center to plate Villarreal and Morrow. Reynolds continued with a base hit through the right side before sophomore Rhi Kliesing singled up the middle to score two more and get A&M ahead early, 4-0.
Glasco’s three-run home run over the right field scoreboard put the Aggies up 7-0 in the second frame. Morrow and Ridley were on the base paths before the Johnston City, Ill., native blasted her second long ball in two games.
“I kept waiting for the ball to bang off of the scoreboard and then it went all the way over,” said Evans. “Erin’s on fire. She works hard on her swing and she puts in the time and that’s what it takes to be good.”
With two outs in the third, sophomore Kelsey Spittler ripped a double down the left field line and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After Villarreal drew a walk, Spittler crossed the plate and increased the Aggies’ lead to 8-0 on an NIU error.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Huskies plated two runs on three hits and an Aggie error.
Sophomore Kara Rau launched her first career home run to center in the top of the fifth to make the score 9-2.
Two singles by Glasco and Rau, three doubles by sophomore Andrea Tovar, Villarreal and junior Bailey Schroeder, a triple by Morrow and a two-run home run by Kliesing tacked on five more runs for the Aggies in the top of the seventh.
Kliesing (4-3) threw four innings and gave up just two hits with four strikeouts to pick up the win. Reynolds and senior Savanna Lloyd also threw in the 12-run victory. The A&M offense posted a season-high 19 hits, 14 runs and 13 RBIs.
In the top of the first inning against Prairie View A&M, the Panthers loaded the bases and got on the scoreboard first with an infield ground out by Bridget Coronado.
A&M answered in the bottom of the inning as Ridley drew a two-out walk, stole second and advanced to third when the throw down went past second base. Glasco then came through with a single to right field to even the score, 1-1.
In the second, Villarreal scored freshman Taryn Broussard on an RBI single through the right side and Morrow’s two-RBI single up the middle gave the Aggies a 4-1 lead.
A&M added four runs in the third with five singles, including RBIs from Spittler, freshman Kelsea Orsak and Villarreal.
Ridley led off the fourth with a solo home run to center and Reynolds followed with a two-run shot to left to make the score 11-1.
Freshman Rebecca Arbino (3-3) earned the win in the circle allowing four hits and fanning a career-high six batters.
A&M snapped a five-game losing streak with the two wins and have three games remaining at the Marriott Houston Invitational.
“The big difference today is they were having fun,” Evans said. “You could see them be loose and really play the way they’re supposed to play. They had a lot better attitude and effort, and it was nice to see the team out there having a good time together.”
The Aggies continue play at the invitational on Saturday taking on McNeese State at 1 p.m. and No. 18 Houston at 5 p.m.