COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The 16th-ranked Texas A&M softball team rallied from a two-run deficit (35-16, 15-8 Big 12) to defeat Kansas (31-19, 6-16 Big 12), 4-3 on Saturday at the Aggie Softball Complex.
The series finale is set for an 11 a.m. first pitch tomorrow. The Aggies clinched the series win with today’s victory and will vie for their second Big 12 series sweep of the season.
Trailing the Jayhawks 1-3 in the bottom of the fourth, the Aggies tied the game on a junior Meagan May home run over left field. A solo homer by junior Mel Dumezich in the bottom of the fifth was the game winner.
The Aggies left 13 runners on base throughout the game compared to eight by Kansas, but A&M was able to capitalize on enough chances for the victory.
“Sometimes it’s going to be a grind and you’ve got to be able to stay in it,” head coach Jo Evans said. “I thought our kids did a good job of that. We left 13 runners on base and, in my opinion, that’s unacceptable. Last week we left 12 runners on base and lost and left nine and lost. We’ve got to do a better job of picking up runners when we have our opportunities. We certainly had a lot of them.”
In the top of the first, junior Brittany Walker reached on a double to right-center and was joined on the bags by sophomore Cassie Tysarczyk, who drew a walk.
In the bottom of the second, sophomore Nicole Morgan drew a walk and was sent to second on a single to left field by senior Natalie Villarreal before both runners took a base on the throw from the outfield. A bunt single by sophomore Emily Albus loaded the bases as Walker hit into a fielder’s choice. The KU shortstop couldn’t make a play, however, and the bases remained loaded as Walker flew home for the 1-0 run.
A determined Kansas team took the lead in the top of the third on a two-out home run over right center. The long ball by right fielder Liz Kocon plated first baseman Maddie Stein and left fielder Maggie Hull, who had both reached on base hits.
With KU in a 3-1 lead, the Aggies kept putting runners on base in an attempt to regain the lead. In the top of the fourth, Albus doubled to left-center. The left fielder was 3-for-4 on the day with a double and a pair of bunt singles. May slammed a ball that cleared the wall and landed in the Reed Arena parking lot across the street to tie the game at 3-3.
“Meagan went up there and hit a first-pitch, no-doubter over the net in left field,” Evans said. “I’m happy for her. She’s another one that’s pressed. She’s too good of a hitter to keep her down for long and I’m really pleased to see her bounce back.”
The Aggies didn’t take long to turn the tie into an A&M lead. Dumezich led off in the top of the fifth with a solo bomb over left-center for the 4-3 lead.
“Mel had some really good at bats today and she gets that ball up just enough to get it out of the ballpark,” Evans said. “Turns out, it’s the difference in the ball game. Mel’s just a gamer. She’s a kid we want on the field, no matter what. She just wants to be out there and she’s a great leader for us. She continues to go out there and do a great job.”
Kansas had no answer for the late surge as freshman hurler Lauren Ainsley continued to get outs for the Aggies in the circle.
“I thought Lauren was really good,” Evans said “They hit the ball hard a couple of times, certainly on that home run. But I think on the day she did a great job of throwing ground balls and giving us a chance to make plays. You’ve got to keep the ball in the yard. When Ainsley is on like she was today, she’s good at just getting that ball down and mixing sides of the plate and mixing speeds and I thought she did a really good job.”
The Aggies now lead the series over KU, 2-0 and are the guaranteed series victors.
Ainsley (4-1) threw six complete innings, allowing three earned runs on eight hits while fanning three. Dumezich earned her first save of the season and the second of her career after throwing two strikeouts and giving up one hit in the seventh inning. Kansas’ Kristin Martinez (6-3) suffered the loss, throwing 2 1/3 innings of relief and giving up one earned run on five hits while walking two and striking out two.
The Aggies and Jayhawks will face off in the three-game conference series finale tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Aggie Softball Complex. To learn more about the Texas A&M softball team, log on to AggieAthletics.com or follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.