COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Bailey Schroeder and Amanda Scarborough both hit grand slams as the 4th-ranked Texas A&M softball team (18-2) improved to a perfect 4-0 record in the 2007 Texas A&M Invitational with a 19-2 run-ruling of McNeese State (9-17) and a dramatic 7-5 victory over Illinois (10-9) in front of 1,012 fans on Saturday at the Aggie Softball Complex.
“What a great win for our team,” commented A&M head coach Jo Evans. “I am really excited for our team and proud of our kids. Illinois went out there and hit the ball hard. They got some big home runs that put us behind. I thought how great of our kids not to get down, not to hang their heads and continue to fight hard until the game was over.”
A&M entered the bottom of the seventh trailing Illinois 2-5. Joy Davis reached first on a looping single over Illini shortstop Angelena Mexicano’s head. Sharonda McDonald fisted off a couple of pitches before hitting a slow roller back at Mexicano which she legged into an infield single. Macie Morrow popped out for the first out. Jamie Hinshaw added the Aggies’ third single of the inning, another slow roller to Mexicano. Megan Gibson patiently took a walk to bring home Davis, setting the scene for Scarborough to blast her third home run of the season, a walk-off grand slam over the right center field fence.
“The way we set the table in that last inning was great,” Evans continued. “JD and Sho and Hinshaw were terrific, and Gibson, I thought her at bat was excellent. She could have easily said I’m going be the hero here and hit the ball out, but instead she showed tremendous patience to lay off the 3-0 pitch and the 3-1 pitch, and I’m really pleased with that. It tells me her head is in the right place.”
The Aggies took the early lead in the game, scoring two runs in the third off a wild pitch and a throwing error by third baseman Shanna Diller. However, Illinois tied the game in the fourth inning with a two-run blast by Sydney Lisy and then scored the go-ahead run in a three-run fifth on back-to-back home runs and two singles.
Senior pitcher Lisa Gorzycki was brought in for Gibson in the fifth. Gorzycki worked one and one-third innings allowing no runs to score and only one hit. Freshman lefty Emily Shadow would give up no hits and strike out one batter in the seventh to earn her first collegiate win in the circle for A&M.
“I told the kids that we don’t get a chance to win that game if our relievers didn’t come in and do such a great job,” said Evans. “Lisa did a nice job, stayed in control and got us out of that one inning. Emily was prepared and threw ground-ball outs. I’m probably most excited about how those two relievers handled the situation.”
Gibson worked four and two-thirds allowing five runs to score on nine hits. She walked two and struck out four Illini batters.
Against McNeese, in the early game, A&M plated 15 runs in the first inning on 10 hits, including a three-run home run by Gibson and Schroeder’s first career grand slam. The Aggies sent 18 batters to the plate in the inning.
A&M would add four more runs before the game would end off two additional home runs. In the fourth, Morrow hit her first career bomb, to score McDonald and in the fifth Holly Ridley brought designated player Alex Reynolds home on her third home run of the season.
Gorzycki earned her first win of the season, working four complete innings against McNeese. She allowed just one hit and three free passes. She also struck out three batters. Scarborough worked only the first inning being tagged with both runs, unearned off a couple of fielding errors by the Aggie infield.
For the day, the Aggies recorded 26 runs on 27 hits. Scarborough ended the evening going 4-for-7 with five RBI and three runs scored, while Hinshaw was 3-for-5 with three runs scored, two walks and an RBI.
“I am very excited for Amanda,” Evans concluded. “She knows she’s going to be getting some pitches hitting behind Gibson. She just did a really job of going with the pitch. What a huge hit she had for us to win the game!”
A&M will conclude the 2007 Texas A&M Invitational on Sunday with a game against McNeese State at 12:15 p.m.