COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 8 Texas A&M softball team (9-2) was unable to come back from an early five-run deficit and fell, 5-2, to Tulsa (9-1) on Championship Sunday at the Aggie Softball Complex. With the win, the Golden Hurricane are the Aggie Classic champions after going 5-0 on the weekend.
Freshman April Ryan was 2-for-4 on the day with a pair of base hits, and sophomore Cali Lanphear had the Aggies’ only extra base hit of the game, a two-out double in the sixth inning.
Tulsa jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings. A two-run home run in the top of the first put the Golden Hurricane on the board, and a pair of walks and three hits in the second stretched the visitor lead to 5-0. All five runs were charged to Aggie starter Rachel Fox, and freshman Abby Donnell entered in relief with two on base in the second and threw 5 2/3 shutout innings.
The Golden Hurricane threw their ace, Aimee Creger, who had allowed just one run, four hits and four walks on the weekend entering the game vs. Texas A&M. The Aggies doubled the hurler’s weekend walks total after just two innings. Creger struck out three straight in the bottom of the first, but the Aggies slowed her momentum in the bottom of the second.
Senior Amber Garza drew a leadoff walk and took advantage of an illegal pitch by Creger to take second. A single up the middle by senior Taran Tyler sent Garza home from second to narrow the deficit to 1-5 in Tulsa’s favor.
Another leadoff walk in the bottom of the third, by junior Brittany Clopton, came back to haunt Creger as Clopton scored on a bases-loaded walk by senior Cassie Tysarczyk. Ryan had a base hit to left after Clopton walked, and Garza drew a walk to load the bases.
Ryan hit her second single of the day in the fifth, sending the ball to left-centerfield to reach base. The Aggies’ fourth and final hit of the game was a no-doubt double pounded to centerfield by Lanphear in the bottom of the sixth. Ryan and Lanphear were both left stranded after their hits.
The Aggies’ four hits on the day tied the amount allowed by Creger in two complete games in the Aggie Classic. Texas A&M also doubled the ace’s weekend walk tally with four, and tripled the number of runs she allowed with two.
In the circle, Donnell held nine Golden Hurricane runners on base, including six in scoring position, as Tulsa was unable to score in the final five innings.
Redshirt junior Rachel Fox (3-1) started the game in the circle for the Aggies and took the loss, giving up five earned runs on three hits and three walks, while striking out one in 1 1/3 innings. Donnell pitched 5 2/3 frames of shutout action, allowing eight hits and a walk while striking out eight. The freshman’s strikeout tally was her career high, and the Aggies’ best of 2014.
Creger (4-0) earned the win after tossing 11 strikeouts to total 40 on the weekend and 54 on the year through just 33 innings of work. Tulsa closer Bailey Erwin had her second save of the year after a three-at-bat seventh inning that included the Golden Hurricane’s 12th strikeout of the day.
The Aggies take to the road again next weekend, playing five games at the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. For a list of next weekend’s opponents, log on to AggieAthletics.com. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.
HEAD COACH JO EVANS
On Creger’s performance in the circle…
“You knew we were going to be in some trouble when we gave up those runs early. She’s a great pitcher and everybody knows it. She’s a USA National Team pitcher and there’s a reason why she’s so effective. She’s got that great rise ball. The thing that frustrated me early on was that our game plan with that rise ball is we’re off it. We’re looking down in the zone. We’re going to let the umpire establish the height of the strike zone, and our first three hitters didn’t do that. That’s important for us to establish ourselves, to have a game plan approach and to stick to it. Eventually we settled in and stuck to our game plan a lot better. Creger has that changeup that’s just filthy, and she can throw it at any time. She got a couple of our very good hitters who are in full-count situations and battling, and then she throws that nasty changeup for a strike. It’s really tough on a hitter.”
On not getting timely hits…
“We had chances early on, and in the second inning we started getting people on. We get a run across the plate, and in the third inning as well. I loved it because we weren’t pressing. We didn’t think we needed to get all five runs at once. If we just keep building that picket fence, so to speak, we’re good to go and we’ll have enough runs at the end of the game. It’s all about timely hitting. We didn’t get a lot of hits. We threw some walks, and we’ve got to figure out how to get a big hit at a big time, and we weren’t able to do that in this game. “
On Donnell’s relief performance…
“She was terrific. I really thought she showed great poise on the mound. I thought [Nicole Morgan] called a good game for Abby. You see Abby out there – she really trusts Nic. I like that she’s ready to throw the pitch that Nic wants her to throw. I thought they did such a nice job. She got herself in a couple of jams and got huge strikeouts. We haven’t seen our staff throw a lot of strikeouts, and she was able to strand runners out there on two and three strikeouts in an inning. When you can do that, that’s huge that we don’t have to make a defensive play and you can really shut some momentum down. They had the momentum early, no question about it. They got up there and hit the ball really hard, and the thing I liked about our team is that we didn’t give up. We kept fighting. Our defense was very solid and Abby Donnell got out there and at least gave us a chance to stay in it.”