COLLEGE STATION, Texas – For the fifth time in program history, the 16th-seeded Texas A&M softball team is headed to the NCAA Super Regional after stunning Baylor with an 8-0 five-inning walk-off win for the College Station Regional title on Sunday.
The Aggies (42-16) dropped a 9-5 game to Baylor (42-17) to force a second game before caging the Lady Bears in the final game of the doubleheader on Championship Sunday at the College Station Regional.
“Obviously, I’m very proud of our ball club,” Head Coach Jo Evans said. “It was a long, hot day. Really, the first thing I want to do is congratulate Baylor, I thought they were really terrific and gave us everything we could handle. The way they came back in the first game, it looked much like yesterday. They left a lot of runners on base and weren’t able to take advantage and we ended up finding a way to win yesterday. It kind of flipped on us today and the same thing happened. I just thought they did a really great job of forcing our hand and attacking. It made it very challenging for us going into the second game.
“I say it all the time, I really love our fight. We never quit. We came out and I think it was huge for Lo (Lauren Ainsley) to do what she did in that first inning. That gave us such a huge boost and then to step up and have Jenna (Stark) draw the walk followed by Garza’s big home run. So many players were on in that game and our kids wanted it really bad. Every player, all 19 of them, really played their hearts out. This wouldn’t have happened if Lo didn’t go out there and give us a chance to stay in the game and let us score some runs.”
A&M will travel to Norman, Okla., next weekend to face No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the Norman Super Regional. Tickets for the Super Regional go on sale Monday at 8:00 a.m., online at SoonerSports.com and over the phone at 405-325-2424 or 800-456-GoOU.
Dates and times for the best-of-three series are to be announced, via AggieAthletics.com.
The Aggies are in the midst of a banner season, reaching the 100-home runs mark to lead the NCAA in 2013 tonight, and adding one more for good measure in the walk-off run-rule of the Lady Bears. Senior Meagan May now owns both the A&M career home run record (68) and the career RBI record (188) outright.
The Baylor win in game six of the College Station Regional forced a seventh contest for the double-elimination tournament as the Aggies and Lady Bears rematched on ESPN2.
The Aggies couldn’t hold on to the three-run lead that was generated in the top of the second and maintained through the top of the fifth as Baylor took a 9-5 victory in the first game of the day.
Baylor homered over left in the bottom of the first for a 2-0 lead on the Aggies. The lead didn’t hold for long, however as A&M batted through the lineup in the second for a five-run half-inning.
Junior Cassie Tysarczyk led off in the second frame with a high single to left field that dropped perfectly between the Baylor shortstop and left fielder. Senior Mel Dumezich drew a walk before senior Meagan May crossed Tom Chandler Dr. with a long three-run home run to take the 3-2 lead.
A hit-by-pitch put sophomore Brittany Clopton on first before a walk by junior Jenna Stark and a textbook bunt single by junior Emily Albus loaded the bags. With three on base and still no outs, junior Amber Garza sliced a base hit through the right side to score Clopton. Junior Nicole Morgan used a groundout to send Stark home from third, and A&M left the offensive half of the second inning with a 5-2 lead on the Lady Bears.
The Aggies loaded the bases again in the top of the third, but were unable to get a run across to expand the lead. May drew a walk and was followed on by Clopton, who hit an infield single. Stark added a second perfect bunt of the day for A&M when a slow-roller dropped right in front of the plate and three Baylor players collided in the scramble. Stark was at first anyway, and picked up a base hit on the play.
Baylor had two aboard with just one out in the bottom of the inning when Garza snagged a line drive off of the third-base line and zipped it to first to turn the Aggies’ 17th double play of the season and end the fourth with no runs by the Lady Bears.
A&M stranded an eighth runner of the game in the top of the fourth. Morgan reached on a walk and was replaced on the base paths by junior Allison Garrett. Garrett took second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a groundout, but was unable to round to home before the end of the inning.
The Aggie defense continued to work to keep Lady Bear runners at bay, holding two on base in the bottom of the fourth to maintain the three-run lead.
Baylor pulled ahead to a 6-5 lead after the Lady Bears added four runs in the bottom of the fifth. A leadoff double, a walk and a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position before a trio of RBI singles sent four runs home for the designated home team.
The Lady Bears stretched to a 9-5 lead in the bottom of the sixth. A&M couldn’t stop the bleeding as Baylor plated three runs on three hits and an error.
Looking for a miracle in the top of the seventh, the Aggies were unable to produce a comeback run as Baylor earned the win.
Lady Bear reliever Heather Stearns (12-4) took the victory, throwing four shutout innings and tossing four strikeouts for the win. Dumezich (27-8) suffered the loss after allowing eight earned runs on 15 hits and a walk while fanning three.
A&M refused to give the Lady Bears momentum in game two, retiring the side in the top of the first and taking an early lead in the bottom of the inning.
After a leadoff walk and a single down the left-field line, Garza turned a 1-1 pitch into a hard-hit home run over right field for the 3-0 lead.
Garza carried the dominance into defense in the next half-inning, turning her second double play of the day and the Aggies’ 18th of the season.
Expanding the Aggie lead, May hit a leadoff solo shot over left-field for the 4-0 run in the bottom of the second.
May sent another solo home run in as many at-bats over the exact same spot in the bottom of the fourth to stretch the Aggie lead to 5-0. The senior slugger hit three home runs on the day to expand the A&M career record to 68, and now owns the A&M career RBI record outright with 188 in her four years as an Aggie.
A three-up, three-down top-of-the-fifth that included a highlight-reel catch by Albus in centerfield, went quickly as the game reached what would be its final half-inning.
Albus carried the momentum of her impressive play over to the bottom of the fifth and led off with a perfect bunt single. With her second home run of the game, Garza made history with the Aggies’ 100th home run of the season, a feat accomplished by few teams in NCAA history.
The long ball pointed to the scoreboard as it topped the fence in right-centerfield and pushed A&M out to a 7-0 lead.
The Aggies needed just one more run for the run-rule, and Lanphear was ready for it. The freshman’s walk-off homer over left was the 20th bomb of her rookie season.
Sophomore Lauren Ainsley (14-7) tossed five shutout innings for the victory in the circle, fanning four hitters and giving up just two hits while walking three. Baylor starter Heather Stearns (12-5) threw one inning, allowing four earned runs on three hits and a walk, while fanning two.
A&M faced Baylor three times throughout the College Station Regional, picking up a 2-1 record vs. the Lady Bears on the weekend and moving the all-time series record to 60-22-1.
The Aggies turned three double plays on the weekend and pounded 11 home runs to lead the nation with 101 this season.